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Like Father, Like Son
Adam and Gerry Niewood Bond While Bopping as Jazz Blood Runs in Their Veins
By Michelle Blackley
New York Resident Contributing Writer
September 15, 2003

Adam Niewood has a tough act to follow. Son of music man Gerry Niewood, Adam grew up playing with a soprano sax, humming the blues instead of nursery rhymes, and traveling on the road with the likes of Liza Minelli.

"Imagine going back to kindergarten and telling your friends that you were just in London on a bus with Simon and Garfunkel," Adam said. "The best musicians in New York City would come over to our house in Glen Ridge, NJ, to practice with my old man," he said. "I would be playing with my Tonka trucks and there would be a jam session in my living room."

After a childhood of learning various horn instruments, in May 2001 Adam landed his first professional gig, along with his father and "a great rhythm section," and the jazz duo hasn't stopped since.

The Niewoods transcend age and generations with traditional bop jazz.

"Dad likes it swingin'," Adam said. "It's funny. He used to go bowling with his dad. That was their activity together."

Jazz musician Bill Goodwin has played with Gerry for the past 30 years and worked with Adam a couple of years ago.

"It is great fun to play with them. There is something special there, and they have an affinity for and complement each other. And you know, they don't play alike," Goodwin said. "They challenge each other in grand tradition and good nature."

Gerry, 60, became interested in jazz when he was a child in Rochester, NY.

"My parents expected me to become a pharmacist, so I enrolled in business school at Rochester University, but I grew up in a racially mixed area where I could hear jazz down the street and see Chuck Mangione, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis perform," Gerry said. "I wanted music to be my life."

Music is what would also lead him to his future wife, Gurly, who was a double major in piano and clarinet at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester.

"What could be better than coming from a musical family and getting to perform with another family member," Gurly said. "It goes beyond the father/son relationship," Gerry added. "It is special. We groove and swing together."

Adam lives in Manhattan with his new wife and their dog, Shorty, and is currently working on his master's degree in jazz performance at the Manhattan School of Music. He also teaches at Montclair State University and thanks his mother for being such an avid practicer and enforcing the same dedication into him.
Adam & Gerry: Music is their life

"He was always very creative," Gurly said. "But after a while, I couldn't get him to stop practicing." After receiving degrees from the Berklee College of Music and William Patterson University, Adam attended Juilliard to participate in Wynton Marsalis's jazz classes.

"The program is his baby, aimed at young musicians who aren't ready to be in Lincoln Center Jazz," Adam said. "It was beautiful having access to all of Lincoln Center's music, being able to hold original Ellington done in his hand. All I can say is, Wow.'"

While Adam and Gerry have performed together from coast to coast, their hearts are in Manhattan. "There is nothing like the music scene in New York City. These musicians play with fire and intensity, even the older cats," Adam said. "You can get as crazy as you want in the downtown clubs, whatever comes to mind. It is the energy of New York. It is alive and up all the time."
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