“Live Life with Passion” is Mark Adams’ motto for the new Jazz generation. This Baltimore native, son of professional musicians, and world class Jazz and Soul pianist began music training at five years old when Velma Adams, his mother and a former music instructor, sat him down at the piano. Seven years later his family re-located to New York City where his late father, the renowned Broadway classical woodwind player Kenneth Adams, inspired him to study classical music and jazz at the Greenwich Village School of Music and to consider a career as a pianist.
Adams is a composer and musical director and regularly performs throughout the U.S., Cuba, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey, Japan and China with jazz legend and mentor Roy Ayers (whom he calls his surrogate father). He has toured with many other renowned artists including Ron Carter, Ronnie Laws, Hugh Masekela, the late Lou Rawls, Bobbie Humphrey, Angela Bofil, Jon Lucien, Lonnie Liston Smith, Lela Hathaway, Dave Valentine, Wayne Henderson and tap dance sensation, Savion Glover. He has performed with R&B artists Erika Badu, Mary J. Blige, Maysa, Bilal, Jocelyn Brown, Queen Latifa and DJ Pete Rock. Adams also debuted as on Broadway in the musical ‘Five Guys Named Moe’ and ‘The Color Purple’ and in numerous off-Broadway productions, including in Frankfort, Germany.
Mark Adams’ live sound, ‘Fresh & New,’ is “the beginning of the new movement of Souljazz, transport[ing] Jazz away from the Smooth Jazz format” and in 2010 Adams began touring under his own name. Recordings released under his name include: ‘Asceticism;’ ‘Feel the Groove, a Souljazz Experience;’ ‘Something’s Going On;’ Embellishments (The Q&A Project)’ featuring Jonathan Quash; ‘Love ‘N Dance’ and his latest recording, ‘CONVERSATIONS.’
The conviction that technical skills are indispensable to a well-rounded musician inspired Adams’ 2010 book Basics: A New Comprehensive Approach to Learning the Basic Concepts to Music Theory, Piano Techniques, Keyboard Harmony, Jazz Techniques and Improvisation. Basics exposes Adams’ passion for nurturing young musicians, as well as his accessible teaching style. The requisite understanding of influences that stimulated the early establishment of classical and jazz music, and the connotations surrounding various compositions and styles throughout the rich history, inspired Adams’ to include a music history component in Basics: A New Comprehensive Approach to Learning the Basic Concepts to Music Theory, Piano Techniques, Keyboard Harmony, Jazz Techniques and Improvisation and Music History, 2d Ed. that highlights selected composers and musicians central to each genre.
Adams has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Performance from City College, City University of New York (CUNY) and a Master of Arts from Queens College – City University of New York (CUNY). He is a faculty member at York College (CUNY) in New York where he teaches music theory and jazz history, music appreciation, beginning and advanced piano techniques (classical and jazz), jazz styles and techniques, jazz improvisation, keyboard harmony, and advanced harmony – forms and analysis.
Mark Adams is the founder and the faculty advisor for the York College chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAFME) which provides tutoring in piano, voice and guitar and where lecturers promote awareness of the technical and business aspects of the music industry. The Ken Adams Tones of Tomorrow after School Program in partnership with York College is an essential component of NAFME. Adams is also a member of the Black American Heritage Foundation where he serves as a consultant. In his spare time, Mark Adams offers free individual piano instruction to talented youth unable to afford costly private lessons.