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Tony Adamo: Miles of Blu (2013)
NICHOLAS F. MONDELLO,
Published: August 19, 2013 Long before rappers and scratchers, resurrected Mummies, and Lord Buckley's hipsters and flipsters, the ancient Greeks had a name for "cats" like Tony Adamo
—rhapsode. The homonym notwithstanding, a rhapsode was a speak-singer—who plucked his lyre and "spung" (spoke-sung) expressive tales of towering, powerful Gods and the tribulations of mortals below them. Pan pipes and percussion types might have accompanied a rhapsode (perhaps doing an early Greek version of James Brown
's "Famous Flames" or Adamo's hip crew here?).
With Miles of Blu,vocalist and modern day rhapsode Tony Adamo and his outstanding supporting musicians deliver a hip, poignant and exciting recording. He covers both slick original material and specifically salutes Tower of Power, James Brown, great Hammond B3 players, beboppers, and jazz-funk groups. Adamo's pungent yet poetic social commentary—performed and described as "hipspokenword"—glides over tight funk and jazz backgrounds.
As vocalist, Adamo's exciting, highly-energetic interpretations avoid any faux hip inflections. He swings soulfully heavy ("Ticking Clock"), has great rhythmic feel, and injects a soul vaccination across the date. His scripted dialog is powerful in presentation and content ("Sun-Ra Rockets to Mars"). There's no hand or lip jive; the "hipspokenwords" are performed as dit-dot tight as the horns and infectious rhythms behind him ("Ain't That a Groove"). He channels the "Beat" poets Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg, and modern verbalists, Mark Murphy and Gil Scott-Heron. Adamo is way too sophisticated and on social point to be placed on the same street corner as "rap." His lines, inflected with the verbiage of the then-and-now hip, evoke and show an abundance of thought ("America R We Free?").
Adamo's entire support crew is superb and clearly dyed deep blue in the jazz-funk tradition. Laying down a solid, driving underbelly, drummer Mike Clark (of Herbie Hancock
's "Headhunters" fame) shines. Trumpeter Tim Ouimette screams, leads and blows great jazz ("Miles of Blu"). The addition of Delbert Bump's B3 brings the R+B thing full circle ("Don't Change Horses") and Tower of Power
's Stephen "Doc" Kupka makes a studio call, bringing his hat, black bag, and balls-to-the-wall baritone along.
While the Greek philosophers might have suggested we take all things in moderation, a very full serving of tasty jazz-funk and brilliantly performed verbal presentations are served on this "Blu"-plate special. It's a jazz-funk ear-feast. So, please pass the Ouzo, Plato.
Track Listing: JB; Miles of Blu; Funkin’ at the Chicken Shack; America R We Free?; BBQ; The Power of Funky Madness; Soul Vaccination; Don’t Change Horses; Ain’t That a Groove; Jack Kerouac, Jack!; Sun-Ra Rockets to Mars; What is Hip? The Other Side of Time; Ticking Clock.
Personnel: Tony Adamo: vocals, “hipspokenword”; Mike Clark: drums; Tim Ouimette: trumpet, trombone; Rick Gardner: trumpet (6, 7); Bill Harris: alto, tenor, baritone saxophone (1, 4, 14); Richie Goods: bass; Delbert Bump: organ; Steve Homan: guitar; Bill Summers: percussion (4, 9, 13); Rob Dixon: tenor, alto saxophone; Gary Milked: bass (4, 9), keyboards; Brett Palm: bass; Danny Drawer: guitar (14); Stephen “Doc” Kupka (7, 9); Tom Guarna: guitar (11, 13); Michael Wolff: piano (13); Kati Mac: background vocals (11); Brett Palm: bass (8, 12, 14).
Record Label: Random Act Records
Style: Modern Jazz/Vocal- Hipspoken Word