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25 June 2014

The Niagara Interview

Questions (Full List):

How do you manage all of your interests (teaching, family, Kool member) and still have time to create new music?

You¡¯ve played during the 70s, 80s, 90s, and today. How do you play through so many eras with strong musical identities and continue to approach the music with a fresh, high-energy sense?
Where do you find your muse?

What influences do you think jazz has had on rap/hip-hop and vice versa?

To what groups/artists do you listen for enjoyment?

If you could assemble an audience of the world¡¯s most influential people, who would be there and what would you say to them that would be mirrored by your music?

Given your productive and successful decades in music which have contained critically acclaimed solos such as Joanna, what differences have you noticed between communicating through music and communicating through lyrics?

Do you have a preference for ¡¡ãstudio¡¡À music versus ¡¡ãlive concert¡¡À music when composing an album?

How many trombones have you used throughout the course of your career?



(1) “Laughing quietly, Adams says that he is “taking dictation.”

A veteran of many interviews, I nod slowly, encouraging this modest man to continue. Sensing the open invitation, he says that the music “comes through me” from the Creator. “I hear the melody” from a meditative state, and the configuration can be “the whole band, or generally just the melody.” This inspired song writing doesn’t often include the lyrics, but it is persistent, attesting to the fact that Adams is a prolific producer of soulful tunes.

(2) “With characteristic humility, Adams reveals that he “started out” in the 60s listening to and studying names that elicit pure awe: Coltrane, Dolphy, Shaw, Ammons.

As a rule, younger musicians have their books to study. “I had the good fortune to stand on stage with them, to get their essence in my ear.” While Adams was in his formative 20s, his apprenticeship with the early masters of jazz went unrecorded, however, in his 30s, he recorded with contemporary jazz master Wynton Marsalis. Adams played with different labels including “Prestige and Blue Note.” He connected “with the bands closest to jazz and be-bop lines.” Adds manager Cleveland Brown, Clifford’s work is respected by musicians working in all forms of jazz and “even by Earth, Wind and Fire.”

(4) “Kool and James Brown are two of the most rap-sampled artist,” Adams said.

Popular artists like “Little Kim, Fresh Prince, and many others” have used signature sounds from Kool and Brown to connect their albums to a broader audience that grew up in the 60s. For example, did you recognize the opening notes from Celebration that are playing underneath a recent television commercial? This adaptation underscores “the commercial value of being recognized by a new generation.” And did you know, Adams’ asks with a beatific grin, that “Miles liked Prince and even some hip-hop? Certainly Miles did more funk and pop, and enjoyed melodic artists as a rule; however, he incorporated it all!

(6) “I’m scanning the globe in my mind.

In the last century, Louis Farrakhan; we were all down there at the Million Man March, Jesse Jackson; he’s influential throughout the world, Malcolm for sure, Martin absolutely, Kennedy for whatever reason you pick, Gandhi, Muhammad Ali; he’s very influential with his message, and Lord Buddha. Of any time? Most influential, you said? In that case, Hannibal, Confucius, Moses, Lord Krishna, Nelson Mandela, Omar Khadafi, George W. Bush, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, Bill Gates, Colin Powell, Guru Nanak, Napoleon Bonaparte, Joseph Stalin, Charles Lindbergh, Saddam Hussein, Muhammad Ali, James Brown, Oprah Winfrey, Harry S. Truman, John Coltrane, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Amadeus Mozart, Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton, Khalil Gibran, Kirpal Singh, Michael Jackson, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Lord Buddha, Nostradamus, Marcus Garvey, Marco Polo, Sammy Davis Jr., Ludwig von Beethoven, Sidney Poitier, Alexander The Great, Miles Davis, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, King David, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jordan, Osama Bin Laden, Stevie Wonder, Richard Pryor, Johnnie Cochran, Jimi Hendrix, Jesus Christ, Darshan Singh, The Temptations, Jesse Owens, Tiger Woods, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Haille Sallasie, King Tut, Johannes Sebastian Bach, Dorothy Dandridge, Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Alex Haley, Geronimo, Ravi Shankar, Edgar Cayce, Mussolini, Gordon Parks Sr., Sojourner Truth, Hazur Baba Sawan Singh, Fats Waller, Aretha Franklin, Henry Ford, Picasso, Barbara Walters, Dick Clark, Rosa Parks, Dalai Lama, Duke Ellington, Prophet Muhammad, Dizzy Gillespie, Leonardo De Vinci, Charlie Parker, Donald Trump, Bishop Tutu, Louis Armstrong, Fidel Castro, Morgan Freeman, Christopher Columbus, Elizabeth Taylor, Kofi Anand, Idi Amin, Rajinder Singh, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Benny Goodman, Art Blakey, Thomas Jefferson, Tina Turner, Grace Kelly, The Supremes, Richard Nixon, John Wayne, Julia Roberts, B.B. King, Angela Bassett, Mao Se Tung, Spike Lee, Carl Lewis, Muddy Waters, Buddy Bolden, Wynton Marsalis, Marlon Brando, George Washington Carver, Max Roach, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, Eddie Murphy, Pope John V, Humphrey Bogart, Yassar Arafat, Chuck Berry, Denzel Washington, Ronald Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Margaret Thatcher, Clark Gable, Hillary Clinton, Little Richard, Mother Teresa, Robert De Niro, Mobutu, Lauren Bacall, Lyndon B. Johnson, Halle Berry, The Beatles, Nikita Kruschev, George Wallace, Imhotep, Jennifer Lopez, Prime Minister Kim, 50 Cent, Venus and Serena Williams, and Kool & the Gang.

I would say to them that we are all spiritual beings first and foremost. Our purpose here on Earth is to develop the divine self. By doing this, we will become true human beings and the need for war, the presence of fear, and lack of understanding of each other will not exist. Only love will reside in our hearts and souls. Where there is love, you will find the Divine Light of the Creator. Darkness cannot reign in the light. My prayer is that we all stay in the infinite rays of the Creator’s Love and Light and dispel the darkness of hatred, prejudice and negativity throughout eternity.”

(9) “I was at The TNJ’s – a great group – rehearsal in Trenton.

I was just starting out but they’d been playing for some time. They had a Silver King trombone there for sale, and I bought it with the $75 I received as a gift when I graduated from junior high school. It sounded really great, and man, I loved that horn! One day at band practice the teacher identified the horn as belonging to Gil Toth by the special mouthpieces and I ended up at the 2nd Precinct! Gil gave me a horn but it didn’t have that King sound.

I received another horn from my uncle Danny. Let’s see, a brass horn from Dave Wilson – a local idol – which I sold for another Silver; that’s my fourth horn. I practiced in New York City all day. One evening I fell asleep on the train on my way home to Trenton. When I woke up, in Elizabeth City, my horn was gone! My uncle Sandy gave me a new brass horn. Years later, in the early ’80s with Kool & the Gang, I bought another Silver.” With this, Clifford looks over at Number 8 and you can tell from the smile in his eyes that they’ve shared many good and interesting times together!

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