Adam Bodine's Latest Nods to Monty Python, Zappa and Mingus

Adam Bodine released Scenes of Changery in November.
Adam Bodine released Scenes of Changery in November. Samantha Hines
While keyboardist Adam Bodine knows his way around a variety of genres, from rock, funk, country, bluegrass and electronica to classical, his past three albums, including his November release Scenes of Changery, fall under the jazz umbrella. But that doesn't mean he's not playing with genres. Bodine shifts styles within each song.

Take the new album's opener, “Mount Magnanimous.” It starts with a slower Charles Mingus feel before launching into an intricate Frank Zappa-esque passage fueled by Greg Harris’s vibraphone; that's followed by a section recalling Herbie Hancock’s ’70s jazz-funk fusion.

Although Mount Magnanimous doesn’t physically exist, Bodine says the song is about his relationship with music and how the more he puts into it, the more he gets out of it. “The compositional energy and the time and work that I put into piecing that all together, it was like this challenging mountain where I wanted to learn and to grow.”

Bodine starts on the mountaintop on Scenes of Changery, which he recorded with Colin Bricker at Mighty Fine Productions in August. But on the second cut, "Swamp Stomp," he takes a trip down south, from the French Quarter to the bayou. He's joined by bassist Gonzalo Teppa and drummer Dru Heller, both part of Bodine’s trio, and guests including trumpeter Gabriel Mervine, tenor saxophonist Sam Williams, clarinetist Andrew Vogt, trombonist Adam Bartczak and sousaphone player Zach Brake.

“That's music that I like and I wanted to create,” Bodine says. “It’s a tune like a few others on this record and the previous one, where I had initially composed them as piano trios, but I wanted to rearrange it. So all of a sudden, there's the trumpet and the sax and the sousaphone and the trombone. And the clarinet and I are having this thing, and that second part brings in the accordion and the organ.”

Bodine and company then switch gears into more of a contemplative ECM Records feel on “A Supple Twist of Faith,” followed by “Theme From The Straddlers,” a theme song for a TV show that doesn’t exist. It has a Latin/Afro-Cuban feel and also nods to Danny Elfman and Frank Zappa.

“It’s just playing with and letting the imagination kind of run wild, but at the same time learning how to piece this together,” Bodine says. “Because composing for other instruments is all very new to me, relatively speaking. It’s only been a few years, really. I didn't go to college for music.”

Bodine actually got a degree in art history from Colorado State University, while he played in rock and jam bands and gradually got into jazz. He went on to study with Art Lande, one of the finest jazz pianists in the state, for many years.

“He helps you open a lot of musical doors and windows,” Bodine says of Lande. “He helped me dig deep within myself and encouraged me that the more you're yourself, the better.”

Recently, Bodine’s been reading Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide, the new book penned by John Cleese of Monty Python fame, which touches on how to get yourself out of the way of being creative and tap into your unconscious.

Bodine also says Scenes of Changery could be looked at like an episode of Monty Python, where the actors are constantly shifting roles.

“I like that in life and I like that in music, trying to bring that stuff to life,” Bodine says. “It's like a soundtrack of my life, really. With music, that's how I feel with my original stuff. That's just trying to bring all that to life however I can and have both clarity and freedom.”

For more information, visit adambodinemusic.com.
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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon