Born: April, 1977 Primary Instrument: Saxophone
Adam Niewood (Saxophones, various woodwinds, EWI / electronic wind instrument, Drums) is a jazz improviser and American composer living in Manhattan New York, USA.
Adam grew up in a musical household in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. His father Gerry: an improvising jazz musician and freelancing woodwind doubler. His mother Gurly: a classical clarinetist and pianist, with a full-roster of local piano students.
Piano lessons on the first floor - Jazz on the 3rd floor - There was music floating around in the house every day!!!
This environment lead to a young Adam marching around the dining room table with a penny whistle, and first tooting into a soprano Saxophone at age 2.
By the time Adam was five years old, he had tagged along with his parents on two world tours with Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel, and Liza Minnelli.
Adam's first instrument was the clarinet in fourth grade, for instrumental music in NJ public schools, but he quickly gravitated towards the Alto saxophone. In high school Adam's band director decided to switch Adam from Alto to Tenor.
The sound of the Tenor got me. This is when I started checking out my father’s recordings. A couple years later during my junior year in highschool, I got the great opportunity to play 2nd tenor in a Big band including: Joe Romano, Larry Covelli, Lew Soloff, Don Menza, my father Gerry, Steve Gadd, etc. for a short tour... That was all I needed to convince me that I wanted to go to music school, and play music professionally.
Education: A scholarship covering his tuition lead Adam to Berklee College of music in September 1995. After two years, eager to be closer to New York, Adam transfered to William Paterson University, where he earned his Bachelors degree in Music performance. After two years of saxophone study with Dr. David Demsey, Demsey recommended Adam for an opening as a professor at a neighboring university. From 2000 � 2003 Adam worked as the professor of Saxophone, Jazz History, and small Ensembles at Montclair State University in NJ. After one year working as a teacher, still eager to learn and develop, Adam was chosen as one of the first 18 students to attend The Juilliard School of Music's fledging Jazz program, which initiated his change of address from NJ to Manhattan NY in 2001. Two years later, after being awarded a scholarship covering 100% of his tuition to attend Manhattan School of music, Adam left the faculty at Montclair University in September 2003 to concentrate fully on his studies, graduating with a Masters Degree in Jazz Performance in May 2005. And wrapping-up his formal Jazz-education, Adam graduated from the Juilliard School (earning his Artist Diploma) May 2009.
Life Experience: Drummer Bill Goodwin bumped into Adam at an IAJE conference in New York. Bill had worked many times with Gerry, and took a liking to Adam right away, and started calling him for gigs. “For the longest time, any playing I would do was in a practice room, in School, or an informal jam session. Meeting Bill led to many performances and recordings that helped to shape my sound and overall approach to playing music. I’m very fortunate that a seasoned professional was patient enough to take me under his wing. We have played countless gigs together, in numerous band configurations including: Bill Charlap, Jim McNeely, Rufus Reid, Warren Vache, Vic Juris, Steve Gilmore, Gene Bertoncini, etc. All situations I wouldn’t have found myself in, if not for Bill. He is a fabulous musician and I’ve learned a lot about playing music from him. He is also a fabulous producer of fine Jazz recordings.
On March 18, 2003, Adam released his first recording on the Native Language label with the collective group SBW. Later in 2004, Adam co-produced along with Bill Goodwin a CD for his father Gerry entitled Facets; and Bill also produced Introducing Adam Niewood his first record as a leader with Eric Lewis on Piano, Matt Brewer on Bass, and Ben Perowsky on Drums, released June of 2004.
Finding a new home for his music on Innova Recordings: Aug 12, 2008 marked the official street-date for “Adam Niewood & his Rabble Rousers Volumes I & II” a double-CD showcasing Niewood’s recent original compositions written for a larger shape shifting ensemble featuring: Jesse Lewis, Kristjan Randalu, Matt Brewer, Chris Higgins, Rohin Khemani, and Greg Ritchie.
Innova Recordings: the label for the American Composers forum, is a non-for-profit organization that is not interested in ownership of the intellectual property of its artists. It is a unique opportunity for Adam who is proud to join a roster of artists like: Steve Reich, Anthony Braxton, Susie Ibarra, and Rudresh Mahanthappa. “I feel extremely fortunate to be able to find such a supportive open-minded label. The people at Innova did not try to steer me in any direction � giving me total control over how I am presented as an artist.”
Adam is enjoying the rollercoaster lifestyle of playing original experimental music in New York; Finding a balance between traveling with many different bands playing clubs, and presenting clinics at schools across the country. While also spending time at home writing music, playing it with the numerous musicians who live in the artistic epicenter that is New York… Aside from Adam's own project The Rabble Rousers, you can hear Adam as a sideman with numerous bands: It all depends on the day...
Most recently: Adam is excited about his next recording project, produced again by Bill Goodwin, recorded August 15th and 16th, 2010. Volume I of a multi-CD project called Niewood plays Niewood, the first CD will feature: John Scofield, John Patitucci, and Jack DeJohnette. This project will focus on un-recorded music composed in the last 10 years by Adam's father Gerry Niewood. With close to 80 unrecorded compositions, by the late great Gerry Niewood, there is work to be done, a volume of work left behind that he intended to document... I feel driven to do this for him. says Niewood.
Awards:Full Scholarship to Manhattan School of music - Masters degree / Full Scholarship to the Juilliard School - Artist Diploma
This beautifully packaged set features two CDs from Adam Niewood & His Rabble Rousers. The first disc is more structured and features all original compositions by Niewood. The second disc begins and ends with Niewood compositions...but the remaining seven tracks are free group improvisations. There's a lot to take in here...in total these discs feature approximately two hours' worth of music. Joining Niewood on these recordings are Kristjan Randalu, Jesse Lewis, Chris Higgins, Matt Brewer, Rohin Khemani, and Greg Ritchie. We initially guessed that after spinning these CDs a few times we would end up having a strong preference for one disc or the other...but this was not the case. Each has its own strengths and they both hold up equally well. Adam's precise saxophone playing drives the proceedings...but the supporting players play a pivotal role in fleshing out the sound. Overall these recordings sound like modern jazz that is highly influenced by early classic jazz artists from the 1950s and 1960s. As is always the case with Innova Recordings' releases...the sound quality is impeccable (Much thanks to engineer Paul Wickliffe, producers Bill Goodwin and Niewood, and THE BAND). These discs are packaged in a beautifully designed digipak sleeve. Impressive artsy stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)
- www.babysue.com (in the Aug 2008 reviews).
Yes, Adam is the son of noted jazz saxophonist, flutist, etc. Gerry Niewood. I thought I would answer that before you asked. His mother Gurly Niewood is also a gifted musician. It always helps to have genes like that.
Epic Journey Volumes I & II (2 CDs) comprises many unrecorded original Adam Niewood compositions that had been piling up over the years. They are performed by a couple of talented groups of musicians, whom he calls the Rabble Rousers, familiar with the material thanks to much collaboration with Niewood.
Demented Lullaby, Volume I's first cut, is the prelude for two diverse jazz sets. Swirling saxophones introduce the piece, which lives in the basement level. This is a lullaby for which you keep the curtains drawn and the doors locked. The story is told in circular piano arpeggios, a throbbing bassline and textural rhythms. Niewood's flowing playing advances the tale. Plot twists are indicated by his stunted blowing. This is not a feel-good bedtime story. In that sense, it is demented. But it gets the job done. The tune successfully psyches you up for the next chapters of the impressive opus that will become an Epic Journey. After all, that is what rabble rousers are supposed to do.
- Walter Kolosky, Jazz.com
There's almost nothing more thrilling than listening to a section of improvised music as its inner shape begins to form. Oh, sure, sometimes music of this sort doesn't really have a shape, the energy and texture being more important than form. With A Rap Tap Tap In The Night, Adam Niewood and his cohorts shift mid-song from meandering (and I mean that in the best possible way) sax, percussion and piano that spends a great deal of time on texture, to a more modal approach. I'm imagining A Love Supreme turned up a few notches.
- Mark Saleski, Jazz.com
Presenting a double CD set of original and mostly freestyle improvised music, Manhattan-based saxophonist and composer Adam Niewood turns in a marvelous performance on the reeds where he plays all five saxophones and the clarinet. Adam happens to be the son of saxophonist great Gerry Niewood whom I first heard play on an early 70s two record set of a Chuck Mangione concert with the Rochester Philharmonic. This Niewood version prefers the creative and sophisticated structure of free jazz providing specific tempos, grooves and moods you will not find in more traditional jazz music.
Niewood is featured prominently here as he plays the lead on various instruments. The album offers a great deal of improvisational material where seven of the nine tracks on disc two, are clearly indicated in the liner notes as “Free Group Improvisation,” noticing the listener that improvised music is what your going to hear, no standards, melodies or contemporary harmonies here.
Joining the saxophonist on this epic journey are Rabble Rousers guitarist Jesse Lewis, pianist Kristjan Randalu, bassist Matt Brewer and Chris Higgins, and drummers Robin Khemani and Greg Ritchie.
If you favor the free style improvised jazz genre, then Adam Niewood’s Epic Journey will be one interesting musical trek you will find challenging and a highly entertaining session of music.
- Edward Blanco, Aug 26, 2008
Year: 2008 Label: Innova Recordings Artist Web: www.niewood.com
When a group has a name like Adam Niewood & His Rabble Rousers, one might assume that their focus is something along the lines of outlaw country, honky tonk, or Southern rock. But there are no covers of Merle Haggard's Mama Tried, Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, or Waylon Jennings' Good Hearted Woman on this two-CD set. Actually, Epic Journeys, Vol. 1 & 2 isn't country at all. Niewood's group is jazz all the way -- specifically, post-bop jazz with detours into the mildly avant-garde at times. Epic Journeys isn't radically avant-garde; the double-disc isn't an exercise in atonal chaos, and reedman Niewood (who wrote all of the material himself) puts a lot of thought into melody, harmony, and composition. But he also makes improvisation a high priority -- mostly inside improvisation, although there is a fair amount of outside improvisation as well. And when Niewood and the Rabble Rousers do venture outside, they aren't necessarily going to go about it a particular way. Sometimes, their outside playing has the reflective, contemplative, economical approach that Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians is known for. But other times, the outside playing is denser and more intense. Niewood plays several different instruments on Epic Journeys, including tenor sax, alto sax, soprano sax, baritone sax, C-melody sax, clarinet and bass clarinet -- and as a soloist, his obvious influences include, among others, John Coltrane, Joe Lovano, and Eric Dolphy. The material on this 2008 release isn't groundbreaking by late 2000s standards, but Niewood's playing, arranging, and composing are consistently solid. Epic Journeys is an enjoyable demonstration of the ways in which the inside and the outside can work together for the greater good in jazz; just don't expect to hear any Johnny Paycheck songs.
- Alex Henderson, All Music, September 2008
ADAM NIEWOOD/Epic Journey V. 1 & 2: With his pop being one of Chuck Mangione¹s original sidekicks, it¹s fair to say that sax comes naturally and easily to this saxman. Using the double CD format to push boundaries and flex his wings, Niewood goes from the straight and narrow to the wild and woolly. A rising comer garnering admiration from saxman that have come before him, Niewood easily vindicates on all counts. This collection is snappy with energy and creativity to spare. A sure bet for anyone up for a wild ride. 708 (Innova)