Personnel: Fred Adams (trumpet), James Stewart (tenor saxophone), Clifford Adams (trombone), with pianist Sid Simmons, drummer Craig McIver, and bassists James “Hicks” Glenn or Ed Crockett.
“Surge” / “Under the Bridge” / “Inner Moods” / “Cool Breeze” / “Eudora’s Waltz” / “No Room For Squares” / “The Morning After” / “Bossa For Baby”
What the critics say:
“…the Ensemble has created a fine CD that sounds more like an early-’60s Blue Note album than something made by a band that includes veterans of the Sun Ra Arkestra and Kool & the Gang.
The Ensemble is significantly better than most keeper-of-the-flame bands because of the punchy brass sound of Fred Adams and trombonist Clifford Adams (no relation), which is bold and imaginative on the album’s eight pieces. ‘Under the Bridge’ closes with three compositions by Mobley, which are excellent…”
“The Philly sound in jazz still lives. Trumpeter Fred Adams, who started this group in 1993 to honor the music of Philadelphia greats Hank Mobley and Lee Morgan, continues the tradition here with a set of horn-heavy hard bop.
Adams’ quaint tunes form the certerpiece, ranging from the Ellingtonesque chords of ‘Eudora’s Waltz’ to the handsome title track…
…While the overall vibe is consciously recycled, the energy brought to bear is not.”
– Philadelphia Inquirer
“The jazzmen of Philadelphia, from which much of hard bop arose, never forgot it. In fact, they celebrate it in concerts, in tributes, in writings, on radio and in schools.
Fred Adams decided to concentrate all of these references into a single group, the Philadelphia Heritage Art Ensemble. The vitality and youthful enthusiasm that drove hard bop as a confluence of the intricacies of bebop and the soul of gospel are evident again in Adams’ group.
From the very start of ‘Under The Bridge,’ it’s evident that the music contains a dynamism that’s unlike much of jazz as it’s played today…Rather than referring to hard bop as a nod of the head to the genre’s many influences, the members of the Philadelphia Heritage Art Ensemble breathe hard bop. They breathe it in as a creative force that shapes their music, and they breathe it out in insistent dissonances and clipped phrases that inevitably lead into inspired solos.
The first tune, Fred Adams’ ‘Surge,’ is a perfect example of their style…tenor saxophonist James Stewart develops the potential of the tune in a brief solo enriched with a deep tone and a comfortable style… McIver’s repetition of ‘Surge’s’ melodic lines in his full-chorus solo proves up front that he’s a drummer who listens to the group’s nuances and develops his work rationally and maturely.
Once the listener is aware of the band members’ musical personalities, the Philadelphia Heritage Art Ensemble is ready to go forth with its repertoire, consistent in sensibility and free in improvisational opportunity.
The remaining compositions by Fred Adams fall squarely within the hard bop ethic of Mobley’s music so that the album attains a wholeness of conception reminiscent of recordings by legends like Curtis Fuller, Clifford Brown or Benny Golson.
At the same time, the music isn’t slavishly imitative. It respects the tradition while extending it, as does most jazz. For example, Stewart changes the tone of his saxophone on ‘Eudora’s Waltz’ from the deep voicing of Mobley to a long-toned, vibrato-influenced sound more akin to an Ellington approach.
Not only is the Philadelphia Heritage Art Ensemble successful in reminding us of the ever-presence of exceptional music during the years of hard bop’s popularity, but also it consists of a group of excellent contemporary musicians who make the CD a true discovery.”
– All About Jazz