Peoria’s Paul Adams is a multi-instrumentalist who writes and records music that spans multiple genres. Adams embraces the characterization, and compared himself to a visual artist.
“For example, he may be tired of working in oils, so he says ‘I’m going to do something in acrylic.’ Or maybe he has some tools, and decides to carve some mahogany. That’s my thing; I’m a generalist in music. I feel comfortable in a number of different genres.”
Adams said at one point traveling in different genres had a commercial downside. He said he lost a record deal back in the day for being inflexible to label demands for a similar sounding follow-up to a successful record.
“They insisted on more of the same. And I said nope.”
But Adams said working among many genres has also allowed him to stretch artistically and perhaps could even serve him commercially in a different way.
“I think I would get good gigs as a producer, simply because people see that I work in a wide variety of areas. Like Brian Eno for example who can work in a number of different areas and feel comfortable.”
There’s plenty of Paul Adams music to dig into. In addition to recording under his real name, he recorded an acid jazz album a little over a decade ago under the moniker “The Neurons.”
“It was a cool album. I think if we re-do The Neurons, I’m going to aim it more for the jam band folks. Since we have the improvisation skill down, we need lean it just a tad more toward the jam band, because getting on the Sirius, because getting on the jam band station on Sirius radio is going to be helpful.”
Residuals he receives from radio play on Sirius, as well as Pandora and Music Choice has allowed Adams to focus on music full time. His most recent album is “Imaginings” is collaboration with longtime friend Dave Hoffman, the Peoria multi-instrumentalist known for his time with the Ray Charles Band. He also collaborated with Australian instrumentalist and vocalist Elizabeth Geyer, and Indian flute player Pravin Godkhindi. Adams said he incorporated the ideas of his collaborators and the different sounds in his head into “Imaginings.”
“Some people find it relaxing, but there’s also a sense of groove in a number of spots. It fits a bit in world fusion, and it fits a little bit in the new age/meditation genre. But I wanted to make sure it was artistically enriching.”
"Imaginings” grew organically out of an album Adams was producing for Geyer. He said the process began accidentally, when the two began improvising to relieve stress during recording.
“It really clicked. Even though she came from a jazz background, she knew to exercise care and stick with more of a droning modality, which worked well when working with Middle Eastern kinds of flutes and things. So we had some basic tracks, then I thought ‘I want to add some things.’ I had just picked up the Dobro, and I thought I was going to add some Dobro and play it like Derek Trucks would.”
When he discovered Indian bansuri flute player Pravin Godkhindi online, Adams was smitten with his sound and knew his lineup for “Imaginings” was complete. Adams would submit song files electronically to Godkhindi, who would then send the files back to Adams with his flute parts overlaid.
“Pravin, with his bansuri flute, it going to make things even more mysterious. On the opening track “Just Some Beauty,” I ended up marrying the track around his melodic construct.”
On “Giggles & Grooves,” Adams said he produced a very gentle groove over a recording of his young daughter giggling.
“And then I took some of Pravin’s tracks and I kind of modified them. Some of them going forward, some of them going backward, and then cut them up and sliced them. It fit like a glove!”
For “Imaginings,” Adams said once he had what he called an “exotic groove” laid down, he brought in longtime friend Dave Hoffman to add “a little cool” to the tracks.
“Because the flugelhorn has this ‘cool’ kind of thing, and I wanted there to be this tiny bit of a statement of … of jazz perhaps.”
The collaboration was a success on many levels. Adams said he was thrilled with the finished sound of the album, which picked up a Zone Music Reporter award for best contemporary album. Though thrilled with the nod, Adams said in general, he has mixed feelings about awards for music.
“I don’t think you can have winner and loser in art like you can for track or baseball. I think if you complete your task and you’ve done what your artistic whim intended … you win. But of course we do have winners and losers. But getting into the awards can be helpful because it can give you a little bit of notice which is good because maybe that will bring you in more income so you can continue to paint your pictures. But of course, in one’s artistic heart of hearts, there are no winners or losers.”