Fall Heroes Preview #9: Terry Adams of NRBQ

Terry Adams

We will be giving thanks for the ‘Q man around Thanksgiving, yo.

By Blurt Staff

Pianist/founder of NRBQ Terry Adams is prepping the release of Talk Thelonious: NRBQ+ plays Terry Adams arrangements of Thelonious Monk Songs, his new live album of compositions by (duh) jazz legend Thelonious Monk to be released on November 27 as a two-LP set on Euclid Records and a CD on Clang! “I have so much respect for him,” he told writer Craig Harris. “I spent a lot of time thinking about those songs, wanting to do them with the right spirit, but also make them sound different from what people have heard before.”

In Adams’ case, “a lot of time” means nearly 50 years.

“The first Monk song I heard was when I was about 14 — it was ‘Off Minor’ by his septet,” says Adams. “I had begun to figure out some things about music I was hearing, such as the I, IV or V chord and then beyond. But after hearing Monk, suddenly I knew nothing. It was a great mystery that sounded wonderful.”

Below, check out a couple of tracks that will definitely get you in the mood:

Terry Adams – Hornin’ In (at Pop Matters)   

Reflections (at Elmore)

Of the almost-50-year gestation period between hearing Monk and recording Talk Thelonious, Adams says, “I think it wasn’t until now that I was ready to do it. Before, it was ‘the mountain.’ In the 1980s I had the opportunity, because of the Hal Willner Monk tribute album (That’s the Way I Feel Now), to record two songs, which was fun, and NRBQ has always performed Monk tunes, but that’s all I could’ve been comfortable with. I was too inside it or close to it or something. I had to go through it instead of over or around it.”

For Adams it made perfect sense that in performing and recording his arrangements of Monk’s music, he would draw upon the musicians he knows the best and trusts the most: the members of Adams’ own band, NRBQ (Scott Ligon, electric guitar, Hammond organ and percussion; Pete Donnelly, electric bass; and Conrad Choucroun, drums), along with several other musicians they’ve worked with often: Jim Hoke (alto saxophone, flute, chromatic harmonica and pedal steel guitar), Klem Klimek (tenor and alto saxophone) and Pete Toigo (acoustic bass).

Most of Talk Thelonious is taken from a 2012 concert in Burlington, Vermont. Adams says, “I was surprised when I heard the playback. The band rehearsed for a couple of nights and only had this one shot at it. They’re great musicians and eager to learn. I know of no other band that could have done it.”


This is part of BLURT’s ongoing “Fall Heroes 2015” series spotlighting key upcoming releases (key to US, at least…). Check out the list of artists to date and click on the links to read more and to listen to advance tracks:


Lanterns On the Lake: https://blurtonline.com/news/fall-heroes-preview-1-lanterns-on-the-lake/

New Mastersounds: https://blurtonline.com/news/fall-heroes-preview-2-new-mastersounds/

Here We Go Magic: https://blurtonline.com/news/fall-heroes-preview-3-here-we-go-magic/

Anthony Neff: https://blurtonline.com/news/fall-heroes-preview-4-n-c-s-anthony-neff-the-nearly-distants/

Bottle Rockets: https://blurtonline.com/news/fall-heroes-preview-5-the-bottle-rockets/

Foxymorons: https://blurtonline.com/news/fall-heroes-preview-6-the-foxymorons/

Maserati: https://blurtonline.com/news/fall-heroes-preview-7-maserati/

Car Seat Headrest: https://blurtonline.com/news/fall-heroes-preview-8-car-seat-headrest/

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