George Adams (musician)

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For other people named George Adams, see George Adams (disambiguation).
George Adams
George Adams (Sax).jpg
Adams performing on July 6, 1976 in New York City
Background information
Birth name George Rufus Adams
Born (1940-04-29)April 29, 1940
Covington, Georgia, United States
Died November 14, 1992(1992-11-14) (aged 52)
New York City, United States
Genres Jazz, hard bop, post-bop, avant-garde jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Tenor saxophone, flute, bass clarinet
Labels Blue Note, Atlantic, Timeless, Soul Note, Palcoscenico, Horo
Associated acts Charles Mingus, Don Pullen, Gil Evans, Roy Haynes, Dannie Richmond, Cameron Brown, John Scofield, McCoy Tyner, James Blood Ulmer, Phalanx

George Rufus Adams (April 29, 1940 Covington, Georgia – November 14, 1992 New York City)[1] was an American jazz musician who played tenor saxophone, flute and bass clarinet. He is best known for his work with Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, Roy Haynes and in the quartet he co-led with pianist Don Pullen, featuring bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Dannie Richmond. He was also known for his idiosyncratic singing.[2]


George Adams' musical style was rooted in the blues and in primarily that of African-American popular music. As a saxophonist his greatest influences seem to have been Rahsaan Roland Kirk, with whom he played in Mingus's band on occasion, as well as the adventurous edginess of John Coltrane and Albert Ayler. He played with tremendous intensity and passion, as well as lyricism and subtlety. At times he bent over backwards when playing, almost ending up on his back. His singing varied from wild wailing blues to ballads.[citation needed]

Adams and Don Pullen shared a musical vision and their quartet straddled the range from R&B to the avant-garde. (The quartet was sometimes known as the "George Adams–Don Pullen Quartet", and sometimes as the "Don Pullen–George Adams Quartet".) After Adams' death, Pullen dedicated to his memory the 1993 CD Ode To Life, recorded by his African-Brazilian Connection, and in particular the ballad "Ah George, We Hardly Knew Ya".

One of Adams' last recordings was America on the Blue Note label. This album consists of classic American songs like "Tennessee Waltz", "You Are My Sunshine" and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as well as a few original songs that articulate Adams' positive view of his country and the gifts it had given him. It also includes "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful".

Adams was a member of the band that played Epitaph by Charles Mingus.

George Adams in Half Moon Bay, CA with the George Adams-Don Pullen Quartet, including Cameron Brown and Dannie Richmond, 3/13/88. Photo: Brian McMillen


As leader[edit]

As the George Adams-Don Pullen Quartet[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Gil Evans

With Craig Harris

With Roy Haynes

With Cecil McBee

With Charles Mingus

With Don Pullen

With James Blood Ulmer

With McCoy Tyner

With Phalanx

  • 1986 Got Something Good For You
  • 1988 Original Phalanx
  • 1988 In Touch


  1. ^ Priestley, Brian; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Adams, George (Rufus)". In Barry Kernfeld. The new Grove dictionary of jazz (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 12. ISBN 1561592846. 
  2. ^ Allmusic