February 1, 2008

First Person:

East Bay Soul, A retro cool Supergroup

By Al Carlos Hernandez

Too cool to the touch, smooth jazz, funk master -horn arranger supreme Greg Adams has joined forces with long time friend, quixotic R&B front man BMI song writer award winner, Lenny Williams to form the new group, East Bay Soul.

Adams is known as one of the founding members of the seminal group Soul band, Tower of Power, and Williams is the voice for high charting TOP hit, “So very hard to go” as well as a few others including “What is Hip.”

Greg said, “It was my idea to form the band, but it was really the brainchild of my management team and me. Ever since I left tower 13 years ago, I have gotten requests to play songs from the bands repertoire. I have an instrumental band and I’m not a singer, so it wasn’t going to happen. A good friend of mine Pat Prescott from The Wave94.7 FM in LA and her husband Reggie were at a gig of mine. Reggie told me that I didn’ t know what a hero I was to the Black community for creating the Tower horn sound…I think the seed was planted that day.”

“I have a song “Life in The Key of Blue” from the Cool to the touch CD. There is a guitar part that Paul Jackson Jr played that just screamed What is Hip? We dropped the What is Hip into the middle of the Life tune and played a little bit of it instrumentally with verse, chorus and trumpet solo and back to the original song! It went over big time.”

“East Bay soul is a combination of instrumental soul, funk and rhythm and blues vocal built on a design to discover new achievements rather than extend the past. While working through the concept… You try to reinvent yourself every time you do a new project, to do something a little different and hopefully learn from the past. We are really filling a void from a fan perspective and promoters’ needs. The name East Bay Soul came out of the think tank with management. Once we had that, there was only one person that could bring this full circle. It was Lenny Williams.”

“I called Lenny and he got it right away. We have always gotten along really well. We are both Aquarians and our mutual respect has endured over the years. Through our conversations the website www.eastbaysoul.com was built and things started falling into place.”

Lenny Williams said, “I am excited about this venture, I have not worked or seen Greg in decades. When we talk over the phone or by e-mail he has such a passion for this band concept. Greg was my first roommate when I was in Tower, thirty plus years ago, here we are making music again.”

“I decided to work with Greg again because he came to me with the idea and I thought it would be fun to do something different. Besides Greg is a great musician and arranger he mixes things up a bit. Greg presented the concept and we worked it to both our satisfactions. The band will be playing some of my solo material and as far as my fan base is concerned, I will still be Lenny Williams and will also continue to perform with the Lenny Williams band so people will have a choice, or they can check out both experiences.”

Adams said,” Once Lenny was in, the energy level just exploded! I have a lot of friends in the music business. It was easy to see if prospective band members were interested. I really didn’t have to go into it, before I could get my pitch out; it was like “Stop”…I don’t have to hear anymore.”

In addition to Greg and Lenny the band includes legendary sax man Tom Scott or sax guru Eric Marienthal, TOP, tonight show with Jay Leno Alumnus Lee Thornburg, stellar LA session cats include Johnnie Bamont on alto, tenor and baritone saxophone and flutes, Joey Navarro on keyboards, Evan Stone on drums, Brian Allen on bass, James Wirrick on guitar and Johnny Sandoval on percussion.

Adams went on to comment, “Of course Lee Thornburg go way back we played with TOP together and we are best friends to this ver y day.” Tom Scott said, “Say no more, I’m in, Greg, you know I wore the grooves out of the Back to Oakland record.” Eric Marienthal said yes too. We all do sessions together and Tom played on my last CD. Tom and Eric will alternate if there are any conflicts in scheduling.

According to Greg, “This band was built to play live, it is dedicated to bringing Soul/Jazz Funk music to audiences in a new way, the sound has its roots based in the uniquely soul based genre associated with the San Francisco East Bay Area. It is however, R&B for our time. First of all the show will be divided into thirds. We will do our own original material and some Tower of Power songs that Lenny and I truly have our stamp on. We have lots of music to choose from. This will be horn driven and caressed by Lenny vocals; there will be nothing smooth about this.”

Williams said “The list of band members we have sound really good. If we have fun open and revitalize markets for our music that would be an accomplishment I would be happy with, I would eventually love to record with this band, it would be intriguing.”

The band has a serious touring schedule, Greg says, “Fans can look forward to an exciting musical adventure at live show, a big full sound that I am known for, check out www.myspace/eastbaysoul.com or www.soulmusiconline.com for tour dates.”

“We are getting calls for all venues. Large festival stages to the famous jazz clubs throughout the country. The response has been wonderful and we are getting strong support from the music community and talent buyers nationwide. Next: Europe and Japan!”

“We plan to gig for awhile, see how that comes along, how it evolves. Lenny and I will start writing together. Definitely new music and the possibility of a record down the road. Fans are already asking for the CD.

Stay tuned.

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Holloywood.

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