Matt Adams

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Primary Instrument: Saxophone

Born: July 28, 1972    

Matt Adams is very active in the Central Ohio area as a saxophonist, composer, arranger and bandleader. His first CD, Case in Point, drew comparisons to John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Charles Lloyd, Joe Henderson, and Sonny Rollins.

A 1994 graduate of Capital University, Matt has been on the scene ever since, playing with the likes of Branford Marsalis, Bootsy Collins, The Temptations, Bobby Vinton, Vaughn Weister's Famous Jazz Orchestra, The New Basics Brass Band, Madrugada, Brasillera, and his own Matt Adams Quartet.

“Utilizing the amazing history of the tenor sax is a tall order for anyone, yet Matt has paid his dues and plays enough history to have made it 'in the door'...he has come up with his own direction, followed his own heart, and truly found his own voice. I think the listener will agree that Matt Adams' voice on the saxophone, as evidenced on this recording, is one to behold.”...
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Matt Adams Quartet

It’s easy to hear saxophonist Matt Adams’ influences. There’s the edgy, visceral sound of his hero John Coltrane, the adventurousness of Dewey Redman, the phrasing of Joe Henderson, the freewheeling improvisations that recall Joe Lovano and, when he does ballads, the soulful approach of Ben Webster. But Adams, whose quartet will perform Nov. 10 at Dick’s Den, has forged a sound of his own: dark, lyrical and imaginative. “When I got to high school, I joined the jazz band, and that’s where I learned to make things up” says Adams, 33, who grew up in Navarre, Ohio. “But when I later heard Coltrane, that was it. I never heard a musician who touched me the way he does.” “It’s his spirituality, and that’s what I try to put in my playing,” Adams says. At a recent gig at Columbus Music Hall celebrating the release of Adams’ first CD, “Case in Point,” the quartet, which includes keyboardist Erik Augis, bassist Matt Paetsch and drummer Cedric Easton, showed off its strengths. Adams did a version of Coltrane’s “Harmonique,” which is rarely ever played and features a wheezing fifth note. Adams’ original, “Banda Aceh,” written after the tsunami hit Indonesia but dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, was intimate and haunting. “I really enjoy playing with these guys,” says Adams. “All the musicians in my band are willing to take chances. And if it does not work, at least we tried.” Columbus jazz fans can also hear Adams playing in his other group, the New Basics Brass Band, which mixes jazz with second line funk, offering its own take on the sound of New Orleans groups such as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Jory Farr - Business First - Nov. 4, 2005

Matt Adams a ‘Trane-d saxman

First impressions are not always the most important ” just ask saxophonist Matt Adams. When his high school band director lent him an LP of John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things, Adams was nto impressed. “I didn’t really know anything about jazz then,” Adams says. He also didn’t know that he would soon be a disciple of the jazz giant. “The first time I heard Coltrane play on Someday my Prince Will Come was definitely kind of an epiphany for me of what the tenor saxophone could do,” Adams says. Since then, Adams has absorbed much of Coltrane’s music as well as other iconic figures. Although he admires Joe Lovano, Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, and the like, Coltrane remains the most fascinating to him. “I know it sounds cliché, but I love the spirituality of his music,” says Adams. “There’s nobody on any instrument or in any genre that touches me like he does.” Adams will strive to bring a similar energy to his own playing when his quartet lands at Pacchia this Friday. The group of Columbus musicians will include keyboardist Erik Augis, bassist Matt Paetsch, drummer Paul Frances, and Adams on tenor and soprano sax. Adams calls Augis “a really tasty soloist,” and admires his accompaniment skills. He says Francis is “a ball of energy, and really easy to work with,” and he is happy to have a “solid bass player” like Paetsch who is really into learning new tunes.” Adams acknowledges the overwhelming influence that Coltrane has been on him, but he’s not content to become another carbon-copy tenor player. One way Adams attempts to break from the pack is through composing his own music. “I make a conscious effort to be different,” Adams says of his writing. “It’s grounded in 50’s and 60’s bop music, but it’s forward-looking and a new take on it.” He says he tries to take a systematic approach, but he’s most successful when a melody naturally comes to him. That melody becomes the foundation for a harmonic progression and may lead to other ideas as well. Adams has been working harder lately at composition in preparation for recording an album next month in New York. He’s hoping his ideas will be different enough for record labels to take notice. At one time a bookstore employee and flower deliverer, he now earns a living leading his own quartet and teaching saxophone. Adams also plays with the New Basics Brass Band, and a variety of other players in the Columbus area. “It’s a good life,” Adams says of his current lifestyle, but acknowledges he would like to do more playing and writing. “I just want to play the horn every night for people,” Adams says. And he hopes to make a great impression while doing it.

Matt Warner - Dayton Daily News - Jan. 2005

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Grove City, OH

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