Image: Fergus McCreadie and his trio at Scottish Jazz Awards 2020
Revered music writer, jazz critic and agent Rob Adams was awarded the Ticketmaster ‘Services To Scottish Jazz’ Award at the Scottish Jazz Awards Virtual Ceremony on Sunday 18 October 2020 after over 40 years in the the industry.
Rob Adams represents the world renowned saxophonist Tommy Smith, award-winning jazz-classical crossover group New Focus, jazz singer Tina May, traditional Scottish harper Karen Marshalsay, the Russian String Orchestra, as well as this years Scottish Jazz Awards Best Instrumentalist winner – pianist Fergus McCreadie and his trio.
“Rob is like the secret 4th member of the trio – on paper he’s our agent, but his role definitely goes beyond that, generously giving his time to help promote the gigs that we do, getting us features in newspapers and blogs and feeding the music to different promoters around the country. I can say with absolute confidence we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are without his help and I’m sure I’m not the only musician saying this. He’s a silent presence on the jazz scene elevating so many of us so it’s so amazing to see him get the recognition he deserves for all the hard work he does.”
We caught up with Rob Adams about his career and his experience of Scotland’s Jazz Scene:
What was your first involvement in Scotland’s Jazz Scene?
Helping to establish the Dundee branch of Platform, the Scotland-wide jazz promotion organisation, in 1979. This led to concerts by the saxophonists George Coleman, Johnny Griffin, Sonny Stitt, Bobby Watson and Lee Konitz, drummer Billy Cobham’s band, British blues godfather Alexis Korner and loads of others (Dudu Pukwana, Kenny Wheeler, Eberhard Weber, Jan Hammer, Karen Krog & John Surman, Barbara Thomson, Hannibal Peterson et al). Then, in 1983, I started Dundee Jazz Festival.
Who/what has motivated you to do so much for the industry?
Simple: the music and the musicians.
Could you share one of your fondest gig memories?
When I worked for Jazz Services in London in the 1980s, I organised two six-week series of daily summer lunchtime concerts in Embankment Gardens. One of the bands I booked was saxophonist George Lee’s Anansi, who played South African township jazz, very melodic with great grooves, ideal picnic music. I went down to the gardens to meet them at the soundcheck and they’d brought along “a guest”. They hoped this would be okay. It was. The guest was Chris McGregor, a hero of mine who had a fantastic band called Brotherhood of Breath in the 1970s. Chris played piano but on this gig he played a wooden flute because the band already had a pianist (Mervyn Africa, who was brilliant, too) and Chris didn’t want to stand on anyone’s toes. He lived in France by then but was visiting friends in London and just fancied playing some music. Nobody I told about Chris McGregor sitting in, probably for no fee, believed me, but it’s true: I once put Chris McGregor on by accident. It was the same with Billy Cobham in Dundee. He brought a different guitarist to the one we were expecting. This one turned out to be on time off from Miles Davis and was about to make a huge impression globally on Miles Davis’ The Man with the Horn album – and that’s how Mike Stern’s first-ever UK gig happened to be in Dundee.
What is the key piece of advice you have received or learnt during your career?
“Look out, the piano’s slipping.”
About the Scottish Jazz Awards
The Services To Scottish Jazz Award was selected by a panel of industry specialists, including press and promoters from across the UK.
The live-streamed Scottish Jazz Awards ceremony included video messages from 2019s winners Martin Taylor, Tommy Smith from the SNJO, Brian Kellock, Georgia Cecile, Fergus McCreadie and Marianne McGregor, along with exclusive performances from hosts Suzanne Bonnar and Luca Manning plus special guests Fergus McCreadie and Laura MacDonald. You can watch the Virtual Ceremony back on the Glasgow Jazz Festival My Player channel.