Saxophonist Michael Adkins
MICHAEL ADKINS, a critically regarded jazz saxophonist and composer raised by Lake Huron’s juncture with the St. Clair River, has traveled a peripatetic landscape between Ontario, Michigan, New York, Boston, New York, the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans, and back again. Adkins’ work across these travels has been particularly influenced by musical relationships formed with drummers: a critically applauded recording and performances with drummer Ian Froman; performances and two acclaimed recordings with Paul Motian; and five years of almost continuous sessions and performances with the late Alvin Fielder, who summarized Adkins playing in three words: “He can swing.” Fielder, a founding member of the Black Arts Music Society and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, himself traveled from his natal Meridian to New Orleans, Houston, Chicago, New York, and the world as a stellar improviser before returning to Jackson; Fielder’s musical contributions, dedication to jazz artistry, and devotion to the contributions of his family to African American civil rights and music remain legendary. For Adkins, he was a friend and mentor non pareil.
Adkins’ latest recording release, Michael Adkins Quartet Flaneur, on HatHut records, has gained considerable acclaim: Cadence magazine includes it in its 2019 top ten critic’s choice list. Stuart Boomer calls Flaneur “a work as profoundly elegiac as any a Canadian musician has produced.” Julian Aunos, in CitizenJazz, observes, “La musique est là, lumineuse, douce, et envoûtante. Pas tout à fait des ballades mais pas encore up-tempos. Entre-deux.” And Jazziz critic Jakob Baekgaard calls it “a gift out of nowhere.”
Flaneur features the late Paul Motian on drums, Russ Lossing on piano, and Larry Grenadier on bass; it was recorded shortly after the HatHut release of the Michael Adkins Quartet Rotator, also featuring Motian and Lossing, with John Hébert on bass. Rotator was selected as WIRE Magazine’s 2008 Jazz&Improv Album of the year, with Brian Morton of The WIRE calling it, “the best hour of contemporary jazz I've heard this year.” Adkins’ first CD release, Infotation, featuring Froman on drums and Hébert on bass, appeared on indie-label Semblance Records in 2005, a decade before the term would surface at an IEEE conference as an attraction between patterns of information, given correspondence between energy and information. More important is Marc Corroto’s All About Jazz observation: “When an artist like Michael Adkins releases a disc like Infotation, no alarms go off. He doesn't perform with a DJ or invite a guest vocalist. He just plays eight original tracks with his trio.” You might want to listen.