Interview by Joe Montague
“I think that we can pull from all of our lives’ experiences and our music. That’s where this is going to come from. It is going to be seasoned. It is going to be like a fine bottle of wine. We are going to uncork it and let it breathe,” says one of the world’s premier smooth jazz trumpeters Greg Adams, as he and R&B singer, Lenny Williams, both former members of Tower Of Power, sat in with me for a conversation about their new band East Bay Soul.
East Bay Soul is to smooth jazz
music what the Traveling Wilburys were to the pop rock culture. The Traveling
Wilburys was a supergroup comprised of legendary artists, George Harrison, Jeff
Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. East Bay Soul has some of the
finest smooth jazz artists ever to be assembled, but unlike their pop/rock
counterparts, East Bay Soul, will tour as well as record new material. In
addition to Adams (also plays flugelhorn) and Williams, East Bay Soul counts as
its members, Brian Allen (bass), Johnnie Bamont (alto, tenor, baritone saxes and
flute), Eric Marienthal (alto/tenor saxes), Tom Scott (alto/tenor saxes), Joey
Navarro (keyboards), Johnny Sandoval (percussion), Evan Stone (drums), Lee
Thornburg (flugelhorn, trumpet, trombone), and James Wirrick (guitar). This is a
cast of musicians whose accomplishments have been recognized for a very long
time by their peers and the music industry in general.
Despite the strong connection to
Williams and Adams have both
enjoyed successful solo careers. In 2007,
Yet despite the success both men have experienced in their careers, both men wanted something more. Williams says, “When I told many of my friends about this new concept, a lot of them wanted to know why we would do this now, at this stage in our careers. (I was asked) is the money going to be as good as I am making now. I was asked if it was going to take away from the work that I was already doing. People wanted to know if my own band was going to be out of work. Like Greg said, sometimes in life you have to take a chance and reinvent yourself.”
Williams continues, “When Greg brought the idea to me, he was very passionate about it. He asked what harm there could be in trying to establish new markets for ourselves. That was the lure right there, to find a different market for my music, and to take it to another place. It also inspires more creativity, because you are taking your music to a different audience.”
To that end when Williams and
Adams first began putting together the concept of East Bay Soul, they were
determined that this was not going to be a Tower Of Power tribute, but there
would instead be a focus on Williams’ solo repertoire, Adams’ repertoire and the
development of new material unique to East Bay
A press release was sent out on January 8th of this year announcing the formation of East Bay Soul and within the first two weeks eight gigs had already been booked. Since that time, the band has already received requests for bookings well into 2009.
East Bay Soul’s website describes the band’s music as, “a combination of instrumental soul funk and rhythm and blues vocals built on a design to discover new achievements rather than extend the past.”
What exactly is the
“You had all of these different cultures blending together, and so the music that came out of this was dynamic,” says Williams.
Williams says that his music has
always been heavily influenced by, “what we saw and what we felt. People like
Greg, and I, Sly Stone, and Carlos Santana, were writing about what we saw when
we were growing up. That to me is the essence of the
One might suspect with this many
talented artists in East Bay Soul that eventually egos will clash and get in the
way of the creative process.
“This is going to be a ten-piece band (counting vocals), so in essence, Lenny will have a nine piece orchestra. The cats in the band are consummate pros and they know how to lift up somebody who is the forefront, and just carry him along. That’s the beauty of this band. When I am out there the band just carries me along, and they make me better. That’s the whole thing, everybody makes everybody better. When it is their turn to shine, everybody is there for them.”
You many want to check out East
Bay Soul’s website to see when they are going to be performing at a venue near
you. I know I can hardly wait until they come to
Interview by Joe Montague, all rights reserved, protected by copyright © 2007 Return to Our Front Page