and the Three Souls
Adam Rafferty is not only one of New York City's most-respected jazz guitarists, but he also is a leader in the field of "new traditionalism" in jazz. On his latest album with his trio, Three Souls, he demonstrates his deep affection for a classic, mainstream jazz sound, but for the first time he applies his technique to all-original material which allows him to bring more of his background to the mix with hints of blues, rock, funk and classical.
Rafferty, nicknamed "Swingmonster," has performed with jazz acts such as Mike Longo, Bob Cranshaw, The Dizzy Gillespie Big Band led by Jimmy Owens, The New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble, The Harlem Renaissance Orchestra, Benny Golson, Paul West and Ben Brown. Adam also has sat in with Buster Williams, Lou Donaldson, Jeff NTain" Watts, Norah Jones, John Abercrombie, George Benson, Gloria Lynn, Chris Potter and Marcus Printup.
Mentored by pianist Mike Longo (Dizzy Gillespie's longtime musical director), Rafferty for the past decade-and-a-half has steeped himself in the tradition of playing jazz standards, be-bop and post be-bop.
This stage of his development is evident on his previous three albums where Rafferty (using a quartet or trio) covered material by Coltrane, Ellington, Monk, Parker, Jobim, Gillespie and other masters (with a few originals thrown in). But slowly Adam realized the value of allowing into his music other styles he had studied over the years.
"One of the most valuable things I learned from Mike Longo is that every musician should strive to find his own voice and then everything else flows out of that," states Rafferty.
"I initially developed my sound by playing jazz standards, especially tunes written by pianists or hornplayers, with my own guitar-oriented arrangements. In terms of guitarists, I never sought to play imitatively. For example, I never learned solos or licks by Wes Montgomery and George Benson. What I did was hold myself to the standards set by all the great players of all instruments. The standards of excellence I strive for are in the areas of rhythm, groove, technique, lyricism, tone, mastery of my instrument, musical understanding and knowledge. With my practicing, I often sit down with music by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and attempt to play guitar at the same high level that they played their horns."
However, Rafferty grew up playing rock'n'roll, studied classical guitar for a half-dozen years, fronted a successful rap/hip-hop group, played the blues for a year with Jimmy "The Preacher" Robbins, and performed in various big bands.
"After I really learned how to play the jazz standards, I realized I could use that knowledge to write my own material in almost any style. Original compositions are so freeing because you can go anywhere you want with them, and it seems to make more sense to let stylistic traits from other musical genres flow into the sound when I'm not playing a standard. But I still prefer playing my new music in the traditional jazz trio setting with acoustic bass and drums so the sound is a blend of old and new."
Rafferty has played with several different trios and quartets during his career, but for Three Souls he chose two musicians-- bassist Danton Boller and drummer Tomas Fujiwara -- he has a close rapport with since they have toured extensively together the past few years. Boller has played with Joshua Redman, Billy Higgins, Anthony Wilson, Bennie Wallace, Mulgrew Miller, the Village Vanguard Orchestra and The Jazz Mandolin Project. Fujiwara has performed with Anthony Braxton, Norah Jones, Ravi Coltrane, Junior Mance, Arnie Lawrence, Reggie Workman and Roy Campbell.
Three Souls begins with the tune "America" which was influenced by the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. "I tried to capture the mournful, yet hopeful feeling I have for all humanity." "Blues for Wes and George" is a tip-of-the-hat tribute to the styles of two of Adam's favorite guitarists.
Rafferty's musical inspirations can come from such diverse sources as The Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son" ("Different Bread") or Gillespie's rhythms and Coltrane's "Impressions" melody ("Tempest"). "'Bootieology' is an acoustic trio version of funk," explains Rafferty. The album contains several bluesy numbers including "Blues For My Shoes" ("sort of an Oscar Petersonstyle arrangement"), "Hurricane Bertha" ("with a touch of the tropics thrown in") and "Like No Place On Earth" ("certain melodies take me to a whole other spiritual world").
A lifelong inhabitant of New York City, Rafferty's earliest musical memory is his father singing and playing guitar and piano in the country and folk genres. At age five, Adam began taking acoustic guitar lessons from bluesman Woody Mann who taught a wide range of styles from Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson to The Beatles. When Adam entered his teens, he switched to electric guitar and plunged into the rock'n'roll of Led Zeppelin and Van Halen with drummer John Christian Urich (currently with Tortured Soul). When Adam was 15, he decided he needed to know more about playing the guitar so he began intensive classical guitar studies.
Rafferty went to SUNY Purchase college majoring first in classical guitar and later in musical composition and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Rafferty and Urich initially played in a pop-rock band which evolved into a rap/hip-hop group Raf and Cooly-C with Adam upfront rapping. In the late Eighties they became a popular act performing in New York which led to recording several tracks for the album Edelweiss on Atlantic Records which received extensive airplay and was certified a Gold Record for sales in numerous European countries including Holland, Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
However, at the same time Rafferty was introduced to jazz at college. Adam heard about Mike Longo, went to see Longo's trio perform at Birdland, and was solidly bitten by the jazz bug. Rafferty began taking lessons from Longo who encouraged the guitarist to leave the hip-hop world for jazz which Adam did in 1989.
The next year he began performing with his own jazz trio, played three nights a week for a year with renowned bassist Ben Brown, and occasionally sat in with Longo. Mike told Adam his musical education would never be complete unless he journeyed uptown into Harlem, ignored cultural barriers and learned to play with a wider variety of jazz musicians.
"The old guys up there took me under their wing and showed me a whole other level of jazz," Rafferty remembers. Soon he was playing with trumpeter Tippy Larkin and bluesman Jimmy "The Preacher" Robbins.
Eventually Rafferty built his reputation as one of the top jazz guitarists in New York City and became known for his refined style, warm tone and ability to swing in a variety of settings. While still in his early twenties, he released his first album, ImDressions, backed by the Mike Longo Trio.
Rafferty's second release, Blood. Sweat & Bebop, not only featured Longo, but also bassist Bob Cranshaw. By this time Adam was gigging regularly with his own trios, including European tours, so he left the quartet format behind for the trio albums KUSH and the new Three Souls. Rafferty also has contributed to several other recordings -- the New York Trio Project's Fifth House and Mike Longo's big band albums Aftermath, Explosion and Oasis.
"What keeps me going musically is the deep satisfaction and enjoyment I get from continually discovering little gems of music, both as a listener and as a player." explains Rafferty. "I don't know where the music comes from. It simply springs up suddenly and is revealed to me. It's my job to be ready for those musical moments so I can present them to the world."
ADAM RAFFERTY - 7 String Guitar
They call him the "Swingmonster". That's because New York Jazz and Blues Guitarist Adam Rafferty has been dazzling audiences for years with his swinging, soulful guitar playing. Other musicians might work at tickling the intellect of the listener, but Rafferty will make your body move to the beat in pure joy.
Adam has released four CD's on the CAP record label - "First Impressions" and "Blood Sweat and Bebop" (which features legendary bassist Bob Cranshaw), "KUSH", and the latest one "Three Souls" - which is on the US radio charts.
The CD features the trio with Danton Boller and Tomas Fujiwara, and is Adam's first CD with all original compositions.
Adam's extensive performance as a sideman has led him to play with musical greats such as Benny Golson, Lou Donaldson, Buster Williams, Bob Cranshaw, Mike Longo, vocalist Gloria Lynn, Chris Potter, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Marcus Printup and others.
He recieved his education in blues from Harlem's own Jimmy "Preacher" Robbins - for over six months steadily at Showman's Cafe on east 125th street. Rafferty has been included in the recent book "The Jazz Guitar -
It's Players and Personalities Since 1900" alongside greats such as Wes Montomery, George Benson, Pat Martino and others.
Currently he is endorsing James Mapson Archtop Guitars and is playing a seven string model - for "extra range in the bass" he says. Believe it or not, he was one of the American rappers from the hit dance record "Edelweiss" which topped the charts in 1989! This year Adam was a featured soloist on Mike Longo's New
York State of The Art Jazz Ensemble's albums "Explosion" and "Aftermath" which is currently rocking the jazz radio charts in the US!
DANTON BOLLER - Double Bass
Imagine a crowd screaming for joy after a bass solo.
That's what happens when Danton Boller plays the bass. This young genius of the bass is one of the "young lions" you've probably heard about. Currently residing in New York, he developed a solid foundation as a jazz bassist studying under ths "Senator", Eugene Wright (of the famed Dave Brubeck Quartet). In Los Angeles, Danton has played with top musicians including Billy Higgins, Wallace Roney, Bennie Wallace, and Anthony Wilson.
He recieved the Shelley Manne New Talent Award from the L.A. Jazz Society in 1997. Danton can be heard on the Grammy Award Nominated recording "Anthony Wilson."
In New York he has been recording, touring and performing
with top names such as Joshua Redman, Mulgrew Miller, Mark Turner, Bennie Wallace, Alvin Queen, and with the world-famous Village Vanguard Orchestra.
Recently Danton has been touring and recording with "The Jazz Mandolin Project" for Blue Note Records, and is co-leading a new "Punk-Jazz-Metal" Trio called EXEGESIS.
TOMAS "Funk Yo Mama" FUJIWARA - Drums
Tomas Fujiwara is known among musicians as one of the most exciting, grooving jazz drummers of our time. He started playing drums at age 7 after hearing his first Max Roach record.
"Funk Yo Mama" studied with master drummer Alan Dawson to get his groove foundation in place. Dawson uged him to develop a strong concept in traditional jazz drumming, a la Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, and Tony Williams and others before developing a new sound.
Now when one hears this young lion of the drum set, one can not only hear back to the masters of generations past, but towards the rhythm of the future as well. His sense of touch, time and taste are evident whether he's playing a tornado like uptempo or brushwork on a delicate, delicious ballad.
Tomas studied diligently at The New School in New York City and during that time, performed with singing sensations Norah Jones and Jane Monheit.
He has toured throughout Europe, The States and Japan. Some notable musicians he has played for are: jazz legend Anthony Braxton, Arnie Lawrence, Ravi Coltrane, Junior Mance, Reggie Workman, Roy Campbell and William Parker.
Recently Tomas released his trio's self titled CD "Unfied Quest." Watch out - this "cat" is one of the most sought after and most swinging drummers on the New York scene today.