After a quarter-of-a-century with Tower of Power, Greg Adams was looking for a new niche, musically, and as a band leader. His first good fortune came in the form of Epic Records. The label signed Greg as a solo artist, and released his first CD, Hidden Agenda.
Hidden Agenda took a smooth jazz direction and was received well by critics, fans, and radio program directors. Among the highlights were a cover of Sade’s Smooth Operator and a new take from a rare San Francisco Bay Area double-album, Lights Out: SanFrancisco, Mahdi, The Expected One. Lights Out was a compilation of Bay Area bands, including Tower of Power. Mahdi was co-written by Greg and fellow TOP member, Skip Mesquite.
I had an opportunity to hear Greg and his band at a listening party at the famed Venetian Room in San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, hosted by radio station, KBLX – 102.9 FM.
Greg and the band sounded great, but he was still getting used to the idea of ‘fronting the band.’ The hotel had a runway set up, jutting straight out from the stage. Clearly out of his comfort zone with that stage configuration, Greg felt the distance from his horn section.With his great musical presence and sense of humor, that discomfort is now clearly in the rear view mirror.
Good timing, and a convergence of various events would find me in Greg‘s audience, again, years later (2006). Since Hidden Agenda, by 2006, Greg had release three more solo CD’s: Firefly, Midnight Morning, and Cool To The Touch
At the time, I was working with Doc Kupka’s Strokeland Records. One of the bands on Strokeland, was DoctorfunK, a Seattle-based band. The band’s first CD, Prescription For Soul, was, in large degree, an homage to Tower of Power and Greg Adams.
Through DoctorfunK‘s local Seattle connections, they were able to host a collaboration performance with Greg at Dimitrious Jazz Alley, a top jazz and R & B performance venue and dinner house.
The stage now set for 3-part performance, DoctorfunK opened the show with a sizzling set of their songs. Then, Greg would join them, with DoctorfunK backing him for his original material. The kicker was part three. Greg and DoctorfunK would close with set of Tower of Power songs, closing with the DoctorfunK‘s original tribute song, Living In Bump City.
Probably the only person in the house, more gleeful than myself or Greg was DoctorfunK horn arranger, Jack Halsey. He had thrill of working with one of his idols, the show went great, and there was one more thing. Living In Bump City is an original song, interwoven with horn line quotes from over 20 TOP songs.
Jack mentioned a funny exchange between himself and Greg during rehearsal. Greg was ripping through the charts without hesitation, but then came to some passages he didn’t recognize.
With just a small needle, he reminded Greg:
“You’ve been gone from Tower for over a decade. They’ve written a few tunes since you left.”
Paraphrasing Jack Halsey, recalling his conversation with Greg Adams
Greg would tell me later that this was the first time he had performed any Tower of Power material since leaving the band. Enough time had passed and he really enjoyed it.
This simple comment would be a glimpse of things to come!
First-Generation New Yorker