Feet Back in the Door (Two-Track EP)
BluesWax Rating: 8 out of 10
More Than Just a Two-Track EP. Arthur Adams Continues On!
Arthur Adams is one of those rare and unique cats who have straddled the blues, soul, and jazz boundaries. He’s recorded with the Crusaders, done solo albums for Tommy LiPuma‘s Blue Thumb records, Fantasy Records, and one for Blind Pig that included a track with B.B. King. His recordings have demonstrated that in-between jazz/blues/soul dexterity. Phil Upchurch, Freddy Robinson, and perhaps (a less funky) Ronnie Earl come to mind of those who have been able to genre-bend like Adams. But unlike the previously mentioned musicians, Adams possesses high-quality and very soulful vocal skills. Adams turns seventy-two on Christmas Day, 2012, yet this venerable pro shows no signs of slowing down. Historically speaking, checkout his often covered “Love and Peace” authored by Adams, that appears on Quincy Jones’ classic Walking In Space recording or, better yet, Upchurch’s rendition on his classic Darkness, Darkness, a Blue Thumb release.
Guitarist, singer, songwriter Arthur Adams has covered an awful lot of musical territories. In soul Adams has waxed with the Godfather of Soul, Larry Graham, Brenton Wood, and Martha Reeves. Rock credits include recording with Jerry Garcia, James Taylor, Merl Saunders, Paul Pena, and Simply Red. His jazz work is most impressive: Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, The Crusaders, Quincy Jones, Phil Upchurch, Gene Ammons, Jimmy Smith, Al Jarreau, Ben Sidran, Hugh Masekela, Herb Alpert, David Axelrod, Joe Sample, Benny Carter, Nick DeCaro, Hampton Hawes, Nancy Wilson, and drummer Paul Humphrey. Arthur’s a blues player, too. Lowell Fulson, Maria Muldaur, Nina Simone, Bonnie Raitt, Rod Piazza, Mitch Kashmar, and the great B.B. King have all put down sides with Adams.
It takes a special musician with diverse talents to have these abilities to shift from genre to genre and fit like a glove on each and every session date. Plus, since 1972 Arthur has also recorded seven of his own solo recordings and worked with big-time producers Stewart Levine and Tommy Li Puma. His previous 2009 Stomp the Floor was on the Delta Groove label. Which brings us to his latest chapter (albeit a two-track EP), with yet another heavyweight onboard, Keb’ Mo’.
Adams has already left behind a very interesting treasure trove of work, but now in his seventies he exudes more confidence working with Keb’ Mo’ who admired Adams from when he ran the jams at B.B. King’s in Los Angeles. Also on this short but sweet two-track EP are producer and rhythm guitarist Kevin Moore (Keb’ Mo’) and Arthur Adams’ guitar and vocals, who co-wrote both tunes with Harry Garfield. Also on the recording are Michael B. Hicks on keyboards and backup vocals; Ronnie Baker Brooks, who also provided backup vocals; Chad Cromwell’s drums, Vail Johnson’s bass; Quentin Ware (Delbert McClinton’s trumpet player); Dave Moffet’s sax; and, Heather Donovan, who also added background vocals. This was all mixed and engineered by John Schirmer, mastered by Richard Dodd, and recorded at Keb’s Stu Stu Studio in Nashville, Tennessee.
There’s the backdrop and history, on to the two tunes. “Feet Back in the Door” opens sweetly as the band percolates then adds Arthur’s spot-on vocal, the Keb’ factor is readily apparent and meshes nicely with Adams’ down-home style, the horns kick in and we are on our way. Not only is this a solid and soulful track, everything flows together as the production and obvious preparations simmer and coagulate making this as good a track as Arthur’s ever put down, with sparse, yet tasty and memorable guitar work from Adams. “Like Only She Can Do” is a little more subdued. It’s a more of a funky and tender ballad. But again all of the ingredients coalesce and make for another fine piece of work. Nothing is overdone, yet it’s all intertwined and extremely tasteful.
Now for the key question: will there be more of these collaborations? Publicist Frank Roszak (who did a lot of the grunt work) tells me that Keb’s work schedule is pretty full, so we are just going to have to wait and stay tuned. As for Arthur Adams, who knows what other rabbits he may pull out of his proverbial hat and whom else he may bring into his never-ending list of dynamite musicians who can hopefully complete yet another outstanding full-track and complete album. Come on Arthur, we are waiting for you!
Bob Putignano is a senior contributing editor at BluesWax, a contributing writer at Blues Revue, and the heart and soul of Sounds of Blue.
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