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Fred Adams

by Mora Jameson

adamsYet another great musician is spotted playing Getzen. Jazz trumpeter/composer Fred Adams has come a long way, from having his curiosity sparked by a toy trumpet at age 8 to playing with Sun Ra Arkestra today. Born in New York City and raised up in the fertile jazz climate of Philadelphia, PA in the 60’s, Fred continues to revisit, reinvent, and recreate the magic of that era with his direction of the Philadelphia Heritage Art Ensemble.

I caught up with Fred in-between Ark tours, back from Ireland, about to leave for Switzerland to perform with Charles Gale, before returning to NYC to play the Vision Festival with Sun Ra Arkestra. We encourage all the Getzen fans to check out Fred’s music.

Mora Jameson: So Fred, it must be really, really cool to play with the Sun Ra Arkestra. You’ve been with them for 20 years, has it been a true cosmic experience?

Fred Adams: Yes, I remember one tour when we took a train from New York to Chicago then on to LA. It was like taking a trip through the center of the earth.

MJ: For those not familiar with Sun Ra, please explain what it’s all about.

FA: We express and let the listener experience the music of all worlds. We enlighten spirits and we explore all the emotions, good or bad…and sometimes, heal souls as we go along.

MJ: I find the music to be incredibly honest, with a hint of dissonance that keeps you wondering where it’s going and with a feeling that every player is playing directly to me. One’s first impression is that it’s loose, but the longer you listen, the more you realize how tight it really is.

FA: You’re right on. You may have heard of the legendary Sun Ra rehearsal sessions. They would start at 8 AM and go on until 1 AM the next morning or later. During these times, Sun Ra would coach the players, teach ideas, get to know each individual and custom write the parts for each player on the spot. That’s why it’s tight but the individuality comes through too.

MJ: If I were a sixteen year old jazz fan, maybe a kid that plays trumpet in the high school jazz ensemble, and I wanted to learn about the whole Sun Ra musical galactic voyage, what two CDs would you recommend I listen to?

FA: Jazz Silhouette and the new CD (under the direction of Marshall Allen) A Song For The Sun.

MJ: I heard that in Ireland the audience was quite young and the group even hooked up with a couple of rock bands.

FA: Yes, a group called Tortoise gave us an invitation to play a rock jamboree in Dublin, Ireland and we enlightened a whole new group of people.

MJ: Are there arrangements available for any of the Ra tunes and where can one find more information on Sun Ra?

FA: I believe there are some. You could contact Marshall Allen Online

MJ: Now, tell us about your other music and The Philadelphia Heritage Art Ensemble.

FA: We’ve been together for 7 years. We like to perform the compositions of Hank Moberly and Lee Morgan. We have a great group of musicians and we were recently honored by the addition of Jimmy Merrit, the original bass player for Art Blakey. Jimmy also worked with Lee Morgan back in the day.

MJ: I’ve heard the “Under the Bridge” CD. It’s very tasteful and it defines the Philadelphia sound. Where can fans buy one?

FA: Until our new web site is set up, they can call 215-438-4223.
MJ: What horn do you play Fred?

FA: I’ve been playing the Getzen 590S Capri for 10 years now. I like the brighter sound and the valves are maaaarvelous!

MJ: That’s interesting because, like the whole retro music thing, the Capri series has really taken off again, especially with the teens. I think they like the bright sound too and especially that funky trigger on the first valve. I thought that looked familiar when I saw your photo; that particular horn was really hot in the late 60’s and 70’s.

Good luck on your tour throughout the galaxy Fred.

FA: Thanks. By the way, I would love to come and tour the factory sometime. I’d like to try some more of your horns.

MJ: We’ll set it up. Getzen has several new products coming.