for his impeccable instrumental albums, composer and multi-instrumentalist
Paul Adams reunited with music collaborator Elizabeth Geyer
for the 2019 CD release of Deeper Imaginings. On
the long-awaited follow-up to the duos 2015 album Imaginings,
these two gifted musicians pick up from their last album left
off. Although considered under the instrumental New Age banner, on
the eleven track Deeper Imaginings, Paul and Elizabeth have
crafted a modern day music classic that also brings in elements of
World Music, Americana, Native American music along with elements
of free jazz and even experimental progressive rock. Commenting on
the variety of sounds on what is ostensibly being called a New Age
album, Paul says, I wanted the instrumentation to be what
one is not used to hearing together. For example dobro, Native American
flute, electric sitar, Bansuri flute... This integration included
a number of the instruments that were made by myself when I was a
luthier, including guitar, electric sitar and dulcimer. Their unique
timbre helped to allow the work to gel on its own coloration.
As mentioned, Pauls talented collaborator here, Elizabeth Geyer
is a most creative jazz musician from Australia. Bringing her skills
on piano, vocals and flugelhorn to the sound of Deeper Imaginings,
Ms. Geyer is a perfect collaborator to expand upon Pauls
wide-ranging sonic approach. Pauls most recent release, 2019s
Deeper Imaginings is being compared to albums by Peter Gabriel,
Paul Winter and Ravi Shankar. There is a definite ethereal and meditative
nature to the Deeper Imaginings album and theres also
a wide range of gifted musicians to aid Paul and Elizabeth, including
a surprising contribution on a pair of tracks, from fabled U.K. native
/ now U.S. based, founding Gentle Giant guitarist Gary Green along
with Alp Akmaz on Balabon (Duduk), Indias Pravin Godkhindi
(Bansuri flute) and David Hoffman, a former trumpet
soloist for Ray Charles. After playing the album a good number
of times, one thing that stands out is the organic feel of the overall
sound on Deeper Imaginings. Some musicologists have spoken
about the albums approach of Eastern music meeting Western music
and there is a lot of truth about that. The mix of Pauls electric
sitar, guitars, occasional spoken word poetry and Native American
flutes with Ms. Geyers deeply resonant flugelhorn and elegant
piano sounds, colored by her background in both jazz and ethnomusicology,
gives this captivating album an ambitious and cool sounding groove.
Even though the album sound is very much steeped in the traditions
of Native American music and meditative New Age as well late-night
beat-jazz music, Deeper Imaginings is very much an album made
in the Global Groove spirit of 21st century instrumental music. www.pauladams.org
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Can you tell us where youre from originally and where you live
now? What cities and states are among your favorites and have you
done a lot of traveling overseas?
Paul Adams: I was raised on the largest sheltered boat harbor
on the mighty Mississippi in Rock Island, Illinois. I havent
traveled much except a hitch hike across the country years ago where
in Death Valley I was mistaken for one of the Manson family members.
That encouraged me to beat it back to the prairie. Did a trip to New
Orleans recently where the Imaginings album won the ZMR best
contemporary instrumental award. Loved New Orleans... Home of Louis
Armstrong, my first musical hero! Ironically, my best friend David
Hoffman who played a little horn on track 3 of Deeper Imaginings
toured the world with Ray Charles for 13 years. He played everywhere
with just about everyone. And Elizabeth Geyer who played piano and
Flugelhorn on tracks 9 and 11 is from Australia and has toured extensively.
Relative to that, Im homebound. BUT, the music takes me places...
mwe3: Can you remember your first instruments and did you start
playing and studying on guitars, keyboards or wind instruments first?
What music and artists inspired you when you started out? Were you
influenced by The Beatles or did you go right into jazz and World
Music, even at a young age? Funny how The Beatles got so many into
Indian music and even avant-garde music, although they were mostly
known for their rock styles. Seems like everything was going on simultaneously
back in the 1960s.
Paul Adams: As I said Louis Armstrong was the thing for me
at my beginning. My dad played trumpet and I learned to play his horn
as a teenager. Then came my interest in folk, progressive rock, classical
and world music. The Beatles... yeah introduced everybody to Ravi
Shankar. Then Ravi did that glorious album East Meets West with
Yehudi Menuhin. I tended to like music that seemed to have depth rather
than just the normal pop stuff. So
Dylan, Pete Seeger, Bluegrass,
Eastern Indian, Gamelon, Pink Floyd, The Soft Machine, the Canterbury
bands and jazz. I didnt really understand newer free jazz forms
but I knew those cats had the best chops. And even though I may not
have completely understood Coltranes A Love Supreme
on an intellectual level, I loved the feel of it. I should also mention
the Native American music. I have a huge collection of flutes that
have been a great addition for me. How ironic that we tried our best
to squash that culture, but it would not die. It has endured and even
had a deep influence on present day therapies and spiritual searching.
We do however need to address how our attack on that culture resulted
in unemployment, poverty and addiction.
I cant believe its 25 years since you released Wonder
Dancing On Global Bop, which I recall reviewing in either Time
& A Word or Real News back in the early 1990s. Do you remember
my review of that album? Are all your albums still on CD somewhere?
I miss the early 1990s. We didnt even have the internet and
computers were first really taking off. Do you have any reflections
on the way your music has progressed over the past 25 years?
Paul Adams: Well how nice of you to remember Wonder Dancing
and yes I remember the review. I had gotten a small label deal with
my first release Various Waves. I then wanted to stretch out
and go a bit farther than just New Age. I got connected with the wonderful
John Golden, who ran Centerfield Productions in New York. They managed
mostly jazz oriented groups like Stepps Ahead. I was still using reel
to reel tape on that one. In making music, I now understand that it
is an art form that demands consistency because of its close alignment
with commerce. But, I like the idea of working like a painter
free choice of everything. Rather than making an album by committee,
I did everything from the writing to composing, engineering and artwork.
But, the business end was hard. Its a weird balance of ego.
Ive always felt that our spiritual goal was to reduce the over-emphasis
on the self. Yet, one has to broadcast and promote the music. It is
quite a balancing act at times. This technology is a miracle that
allows me to do all of it right in my home. That... is a miracle!
My friend Gary Green, who played a little guitar on Deeper Imaginings
was in the very musically astute band Gentle Giant. He and I have
spoken about what they could have done with this technology. Their
music was pretty sophisticated, but done live. No sequencing etc.
How ironic that so much of music today is so empty and boring despite
the technology advancements?! And yes, I still have all my old albums
on CD, and they are all available in the usual places. I even have
hundreds of cassettes of early albums. I just cant seem to throw
Tell us how you met Elizabeth Geyer and when did the chemistry between
you and her really take off? Was Imaginings the first album
you made with Elizabeth and how would you describe her approach to
music writing and improvisation? Shes a great singer, pianist
and horn player... What albums by Elizabeth do you recommend?
Paul Adams: It was a real contemporary integration of technology,
whim, artistic direction, fate, and well, an unconventional personal
relationship. It was a mashing of silicon and human feeling. I saw
her my space page. I thought oh, cute girl trumpet player.
I had a listen and it was the real deal. Had my trumpet playing friend
Dave give a listen and he was also taken with her playing and composition.
We then communicated through Facebook and found similar interests
musically and spiritually. I sent her an album I did called In
The Land Where I Come From, thinking she wouldnt like it.
But, she really dug its rather odd sense of vision. Surprisingly it
became one of her favorite albums. She connected with its eccentricity
and asked if I could help her record her next album. I nervously accepted
the proposal. In the meantime I sent an email to Bruce Lundvall who
I had just seen interviewed on ABC 20/20 show about Eva Cassidy, and
his regret at not signing her to Blue Note records. I sent him Elizabeth's
albums and he became her champion. Because of health issues he was
reducing his role as president of Blue Note but wanted to be involved
in her album The Bridge. He even dedicated a Blue Note Hour
to her on Sirius Radio in the spring of 2013. To reduce stress during
the recording of her album, we started improvising gentle New Age-y
stuff. To both of our surprises, it turned out to be the album Imaginings.
I knew it was a valid musical form, but being a jazzer she was
concerned that it didnt always offer a more sophisticated use
of composition. She became very passionate about the exotic beauty
that seemed to be unfolding in the process. Of course she was excited
about the instrumentation such as electric sitar, oud, flutes and
percussion. And hearing Pravin Godkhindi really impressed her. Pravin
How would you contrast the making of the 2015 Imaginings with
2019s Deeper Imaginings? Are they connected in a musical
sense and in what ways are they different as well and is there a contrast
between the ways you worked with Elizabeth on the two albums?
Paul Adams: With Deeper Imaginings I wanted to go a
bit farther. I didnt want to alienate those who loved its gentle,
ethnic beauty, but I wanted to add an element of jazz and poetry to
push the artistic boundary a bit. I have a book of poetry almost completed
and the verses seem to fall down on my head so easily and organically.
I know it may be risky but to not use them seemed to be an unkindness
or an ungratefulness to the source from which they came. And, I wanted
to show of Elizabeths flugelhorn playing. Pravin Godkhindi and
my friend David helped for continuity. Elizabeth was also much happier
with her piano work on Deeper. She felt she was more in
to the mood and vibe. The process was somewhat similar. I would work
in the studio, mail tracks to Elizabeth in Australia, Pravin in India
and make adjustments such as placement. In a few cases, manipulating
some partial phrases in pitch and length using the technology we now
have available. The key was that it be valid and organic feeling.
I met Alp Akmaz on Instagram and heard him playing the balaban (Duduk).
Its always been one of my favorite instruments, so I had him
play the melodic sequence on cut 11, "Hope For The Game".
I became good friends with Gary Green and asked if he would just touch
a few spaces on two songs. Gary has a unique sense of time and melody.
For those familiar with gentle Giant they might hear familiar phrasing
unique to Gary and GG. On "All That I Am", I hear his unusual
timing of adding single line elements around 2:42 is interesting.
He dances in an interesting way in and around the poetic lines. Very
subtle and minimal, but very GG to my ear anyway.
mwe3: How did you meet David Hoffman and how many albums have
you recorded with David? What did he bring to the Deeper Imaginings
Paul Adams: I first met David at a local comedy club where
he would play trumpet and piano with the jazz bands appearing there.
Although he was steeped deeply in the world of jazz, and Im
more of a folk, slightly undisciplined guy, we both had a rebels heart
and saw things with similar sensibilities. We have a love for spirituality
and comedy as well as irony with a slight dash of cynicism. David
added a slight jazz feel to the track "Giggles and Grooves"
on the Imaginings album. On Deeper Imaginings, Elizabeth
held down more of the jazz improve tones and David added some very
soft melodic lines as heard in the song "Acceptance". I
manipulated the horn a bit to add a tad of the mystery. He spent 13
years with Ray Charles and even did some arranging. His playing is
perhaps most fitting in a Be-Bop sense, but he also has a love of
the unusual more evident in his own personal recordings!
What was it like working with Indian flute player Pravin Godkhindi
and Turkish Balaban player Alp Akmaz and how did you meet them? They
really bring a sense of the exotic to Deeper Imaginings.
Paul Adams: I met Pravin on You Tube. I was looking to
find a teacher on the bansuri flute and Pravin is one of the best.
A real genius. He suggested doing a recording together so having him
play of both Imaginings and Deeper Imaginings was a
great pleasure. The key was to keep everything laid back
and trusting in the gods of improvisation that it was
just going to work. He invited David and I to one of his concerts
touring America last summer and we were absolutely stunned. Perhaps
one of the greatest live performances I have ever seen. And his 17
year old son was with him and was unbelievable! I mentioned earlier
that I met Alp Akmaz on Instagram. I had a gut feeling that taking
a risk and choosing him to play what I needed would work. And he had
to trust me as well. I wanted to make everyone happy. I find that
sending files back and forth, even with some who are strangers would
work. It was limited in that they werent in the studio to take
specific commands. But I integrated their sense of musicality and
had a gut feeling I could make it work.
mwe3: You also studied ethnomusicology under Dr. Joel Maring.
What inspired you to immerse yourself in that field? Can you explain
the connection between music in a cultural context? I know its
vast... Seems like the world is shrinking more and more these days!
Paul Adams: Frankly, I wanted a way to be involved in the arts
but didnt have the confidence to perform. I had a love of ethnic
music and ethnomusicology was a great fit. I am a generalist. I love
such a wide field of music and the exotic sounds and understanding
the way various cultures used music as a tool for communication. And...
besides being intellectually interesting, it feels good.
Music is magic isnt it? I mean the style of music can indicate
geographic location, assist in communication and I believe it is a
healing and comforting tool. There are so many examples whether it
is in exercise, meditation and yoga, sleep. Theres a neurological
connection to spirit. I could go on
How did the study of ethnomusicology inspire you build your own instruments?
How long have you been a luthier and how many instruments have you
built and/or designed and what instruments that you made are you most
Paul Adams: I was looking for an outlet. I wanted to connect
with something in the arts. The first dulcimer I made was part of
a class assignment and I caught the bug. I started building dulcimers
and this lead to banjos and eventually electric and acoustic guitars.
I loved working with wood and exploring the physics of sound. At university,
I really caught the bug of the 5 string banjo. For a folk music class
we were to perform on an instrument new to us and I chose the banjo.
It was magical to see an instrument take shape. Im not sure
I can mention a favorite. I made an electric out of Padouk for Rick
Zunigar when he was with Stevie Wonder and I loved that instrument.
Thrilling to me is getting email from owners with photos of their
instruments. I actually bought a few back. Two years ago I found a
dulcimer I made in 1980 on Ebay and bought it back. It was made from
old oak I scavenged from the Jefferson Hotel that was torn down here
in Peoria. It was in mint condition and Im so proud to have
it back. I also made a guitar out of the same wood, but havent
found it. Now and then I put out inquiry on social media.
mwe3: Your music is sometimes describes as being therapeutic.
Tell us about working in the mental health world and what you found
to be the connection between music and mental health. Would we all
be even more crazy without music? What can you tell us about the spoken
word elements you bring to your music? It sounds kind of beat-jazz
in a way. Remember Ken Nordine?
Adams: I do remember Ken Nordine, he was great. And yes, the spoken
word jazz is something I love. Deeper Imaginings is the second
time I have used this form. I wanted to keep this album within the
New Age genre but felt the groove of the two songs on the album "All
That I Am" and "Hope For The Game" didnt distract.
And yes, I did learn quite a lot working in mental health. Ill
offer one example as theres a ton of material written on its
efficacy. Gentle music without melodic content or structure can be
very helpful for relaxation and sleep. However, I have seen some clients
frightened by it. I found that some with a history of abuse were left
feeling too alone with unresolved past issues. They described being
alone in a vacuum. When I introduced melodic content with the gentle
music, it helped by adding structure. They felt less alone and free
floating. They felt more secure. And in some cases using melodies
they are familiar with and that resonate positively with them is helpful.
Like being comforted with a trusted friend. Of course instrumentation,
volume, pulse can influence as well. The integration of using the
sounds of nature is also helpful to include in the pallete.
mwe3: And can you tell us about having electric guitarist Gary
Green playing guitar on the new album? I had forgotten Gary was living
in the States these days. Did you play some of the Gentle Giant albums
back in the day? Do you have a favorite Gentle Giant album and would
you consider working further with Gary?
Paul Adams: I spoke about Gary earlier. But, I met Gary back
in the 1980s. He moved to Princeton Illinois, his wife Judys
hometown. They met when Giant was touring through Colorado. They live
in a beautiful old Victorian home and like me are huge animal rescue
fans. I loved Gentle Giant and had an appreciation for the complexity
of their work. I got an email from Ant, a GG fan in England who had
the drummer John Weathers work on a song called "You Havent
A Chance". Which by the way is very good!. The plan is to use
this as a skeletal structure, have Gary add guitar and send back to
the UK. The ball is in our court now. Im going to introduce
Gary to a program called Reason so we can get the ball rolling. I
hope over the coming months we can get this going.
Did you record with the musicians live in the studio and how were
the remote recordings handled? Can you contrast the way Deeper
Imaginings was made with some of your pre-internet albums from
the early 1990s?
Paul Adams: Of course, I used reel to reel tape initially and
relied on doing quite a bit of bouncing of tracks. I evolved into
digital tape and now use the PC for everything. I mentioned previously
that Elizabeth and I recorded the main tracks here in Illinois, but
to get the others involved we sent music files back and forth, either
via email or dropbox. For Garys part, I recorded him at his
studio using my laptop. I love working this way. It feels magical.
And new! I mean how miraculous is that?
mwe3: Are you happy with the 21st century model of how music
is heard and distributed? There seems to be a much greater access
to music than ever before yet are all the bells and whistles somewhat
of a distraction? The tendency these days is to replace CDs with digital
files, which I still burn a CD of, yet on the other hand purists are
going back to vinyl. The CD is what got me interesting in starting
mwe3.com and also Time & A Word yet now it seems like the CD is
Paul Adams: I love CDs and am sad to see them go away.
But, I think it will be a medium that is here to stay, just not with
the attention it once had. Digital files are the way music is distributed
today. I feel a bit sad about this, yet there are positives. It is
so much easier to send files to listeners or to radio. Its also
easier to release albums straight to CD Baby, Spotify and Pandora.
Im working on developing Spotify where I am slightly weak. Pandora
is great as I have over 104 million streams there.
mwe3: What about 2020? A new decade means changes, right? How
about plans for the new year and are you hopeful for the future?
Adams: For me, Im going to start releasing singer-songwriter
material under the name PD Adams in order to not confuse my name associated
with New Age. I think its a very strong side of me, but I was
just too shy to release and record it. Im now ready to do it.
I think we are here to face certain fears and allow growth. Its
time to throw the door open and be true. I also want to continue to
release New Age material as I love it, and I think it is helpful for
those needing to have an alternative to the crazy energy in the world
today. I want to continue to record with others in different parts
of the world by sending files back and forth. Thats very, very
exciting to me! Elizabeth and I would love to put together a tour
of house concerts...