Jazz Police
Adam Niewood and his Rabble Rousers at the Artists Quarter, July 7-8; the Nomad July 12
Contributed by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor
July 1, 2006

Adam Niewood © Andrea Canter

“Niewood has a distinctly powerful, supple and soulfully intelligent presence. One can draw comparisons with several jazz saxophonists, but Niewood never mimics or rehashes someone else's work. He clearly can hold his own with names like Tony Malaby, Chris Potter and other notable contemporaries.” –Mark F. Turner, All About Jazz

The Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul has certainly witnessed its share of musical “rabble rousers,” but this weekend (July 7-8) marks the Minnesota debut of a band carrying that name when New York saxophonist Adam Niewood joins forces with a Twin Cities rhythm section featuring Brian Nichols, Adam Linz, and JT Bates for a live recording session. A few days later (July 12), the band will appear at the Nomad in Minneapolis.
A native of New Jersey, Niewood got an early start in music as the son of multi-reedist Gerry Niewood and classical pianist Gurly Niewood. As a six-year-old, Adam rode along with his dad on tours with Simon & Garfunkel and Liza Minnelli. As a fourth grader, Adam began clarinet lessons, but moved to the alto sax and, in high school, picked up the tenor after listening to his dad’s recordings of Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, John Coltrane and more.

JT Bates © Andrea Canter

“As a junior in highschool, I got the great opportunity to play 2nd tenor in a Big band including: Lew Soloff, Don Menza, my father Gerry, Steve Gadd, etc. under the direction of Chuck Mangione, for a short tour,” recalled Adam. “That was all I needed to convince me that I wanted to go to music school, and play all the saxophones professionally." To further his jazz education, Niewood studied at Berklee College of Music and received his degree from William Paterson College. He taught saxophone and jazz history for three years at Montclair State University before enrolling in the new jazz studies program at Julliard; due to his busy teaching schedule, he only attended one year. He soon dropped his teaching duties and received a scholarship to the Master’s program at the Manhattan School of Music, where he graduated in 2005.

Adam Linz © Andrea Canter

Adam soon met Bill Goodwin who became a mentor as well as cohort, playing with Bill Charlap, Jim McNeely, Rufus Reid, Warren Vache, Vic Juris, Steve Gilmore, Gene Bertoncini, and others “in numerous configurations…All situations I wouldn’t have found myself in, if not for Bill. He is a fabulous musician and I’ve learned a lot about playing music from him." Adam released is first recording with the collective SBW for Native Language in 2003, then Goodwin produced a recording that paired Adam with his father Gerry (Facets, 2004). Also in 2004, Goodwin produced Adam’s first recording as leader, Introducing Adam Niewood, with Eric Lewis on piano, Matt Brewer on bass, and Ben Perowsky on drums.

Despite Adam’s success as a performer, he may be better known in the Big Apple as a woodwind mouthpiece refinisher, a skill he developed following the death of refinisher Jon Van Wie and to address his own frustration over the quality of modern wood mouthpieces. In New York and on tour, he continues to play with Bill Goodwin’s Quartet, the Adam & Gerry Niewood B-3 Big Band, and other ensembles.

Brian Nichols © Andrea Canter

Joining Adam Niewood in the Twin Cities are three of the finest “rabble rousing” jazzmen around: Longtime pal, bassist/composer Adam Linz plays with a variety of cutting edge groups in the area, including Fat Kid Wednesdays and FKG, and also doubles on turntables with the electronic hip hop group, Suki Takahashi. One of the busiest musicians during the Minnesota Sur Seine Festival, Linz has recently appeared with French pianist François Tusques and has been involved as an instructor with the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth jazz bands.

JT Bates is one of the busiest drummers in the Twin Cities, on and off the bandstand. He was a member of Motion Poets, has played and recorded with Doug Little, and recently has worked with a variety of Latin, electronic, and experimental ensembles, including Low Blow and Fat Kid Wednesdays. Locally he was in high demand at last fall’s Minnesota Sur Seine Festival and during the recent Hot Summer Jazz Festival (“Trumpet Summit”).

One of the newer talents on the local scene, pianist Brian Nichols hails from Chicago, attended Iowa State University, and was a participant in Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Residency at Kennedy Center in 2004. Since his arrival, he has been an impressive performer at the Artists Quarter and Dakota, and as an instructor at the MacPhail Center for Music. His recent appearances have included keyboarding for Peruvian guitarist Andres Prado.

The AQ weekend gig will be a live recording event, so we can expect considerable mayhem from this ballistic quartet!

The Artists Quarter is located at 7th Place and St. Peter Street in downtown St. Paul. Sets at 9 pm, July 7-8; www.artistsquarter.com. On July 12, you can catch the Rabble Rousers across the river at the Nomad World Pub, 501 S. Cedar (Minneapolis), show at 9 pm; www.nomadpub.com

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