Dan Adler’s Debut Album: “All Things Familiar”

Dan Adler’s Debut Album: “All Things Familiar”

#31 on the CMJ Jazz Radio Chart


“CD Discovery of the week” at JazzWax.com


Dan Adler


Grant Stewart

Tenor Sax

Richard Samuels


Dmitri Kolesnik


Phil Stewart


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DAN ADLER: All Things Familiar
DAN ADLER: All Things Familiar Featuring Grant Stewart


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Dan Adler may not be as well known as some, but his extraordinary playing on this new CD is sure to change that. Besides Dan’s glittering tone and precision, there are some wonderful solos and great rapport and interplay with the other members of this top-notch group: Grant Stewart, Richard Samuels, Dmitri Kolesnik and Phil Stewart.

The four standards are all well known, and Dan’s arrangements treat them with high regard. The six originals are very inventive, and the title track is a clever take on “All The Things You Are”. Dan Adler shows off his considerable technique with much taste and professionalism. I highly recommend this CD. Well done, Dan and company!

Jack Wilkins

I love Dan Adler’s new CD. He has such a nice sound combined with a precise time feel and killer lines. It’s all there, all the right stuff. I like the little twists in the arrangements, like the odd chords floating around on “Star Eyes” and the time modulations on “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”. Super Cool! I also love the catchy originals, especially the title track. And Grant Stewart’s playing is so beautiful – a real classic improviser. There is a lot of great music and great playing on this CD by all involved. My hat’s off to Dan and the group.

Peter Sprague

I enjoyed Dan Adler’s new CD. Great playing by Dan and the group. I really love listening to Grant Stewart’s playing. He has that full bodied authentic “Newk” approach to his playing. He knows it’s all in the sound and Time.

Jerry Bergonzi

Dan Adler has found a role in protecting the legacy of the jazz guitar… He has a clean sound, Metheny-esque, with the long lines and quick turns of his acknowledged influences, Pat Martino and Joe Pass.

Steve Armour, JazzReview.com

Hi Dan,
I just listened to your CD. It’s a really nice album, some honest to goodness real Jazz with good changes. I like the head of “Star Eyes”, very hip changes. You sound really good Dan, and I can tell you listened to Joe Pass a fair bit. How nice to hear a genuine bebop tenor player like Grant Stewart, who doesn’t get outside, and has great time. I’m impressed. The other guys all sound just as good, and if you were to come here (LA) I would go to hear you play.

Colin Bailey, Drummer on 13 Joe Pass CD’s including: “Catch Me” and “For Django”

Hi Dan,
Your cd is really great! It is truly representative of you as a musician / person. The program is well thought out, the presentation (cover, notes, etc) first class. Most important, the music is fantastic! Your playing is wonderful-inventive, musical, intelligent, swinging and more. Your bandmates are fantastic as well, and you all sound like a band! Thanks for sharing your efforts and joy with us all! It’s on my ipod from now on…

Joe Giglio

I’ve been a big fan of Dan Adler’s playing for some years now. When he invited me to attend the recording session for ‘All Things Familiar’ during a recent visit to NY, I naturally jumped at the chance. Aside from Pacific-era Joe Pass, and the two Pats (Martino and Metheny), Adler counts among his influences tenor saxophone greats Sonny Rollins, Jerry Bergonzi and Steve Grossman. One aspect he shares with all these players is the ability to spin out long solos combining narrative impact, rhythmic vitality and deep beauty. Whether he’s firing on all cylinders, (‘You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To’) or laying back on a ballad (‘Emily’), Dan Adler’s musical statements are always memorable. It’s not surprising given Dan’s love for the tenor sax that he decided to share frontline duties on this album with one of the instrument’s finest exponents, Grant Stewart. Add to the mix Dan’s longtime musical partner, Richard Samuels on piano, a highly sympathetic rhythm section and a great array of originals and standards and the result is an inspired and cohesive recording.

Paul Mitchell Brown, CDBaby Review, Australia

From being in the Israeli army to moving to New York to work in geek world to finding time to being one of those jazzbo guitarists that catch your ear while the great stampede passes by, Adler has a lot on his plate and apparently a solidly mathematical brain to keep it all straight. A solid set that comes at your right down the middle, it simply would not compute if you are a genre fan and didn’t take the time to check him out.

Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher – Midwest Record

The Dan Adler album is a wonderful mixture of ballads and some real swingin’ stuff. 2 1/2 WOWs!

-George Middleton, KLBC Long Beach, CA

Dan Adler’s “All Things Familiar” will be getting spins in The Jazz Cafe. First rate!

-Bob Collins, WRHU – Hempstead, NY

Dan Adler is a young jazz guitarist from New York, whose debut album is “All Things Familiar”. The title is spot on. After hearing the first sounds it, feels as if we’d been listening to the record of a jazz musician well-known for a long time. However, with the exception of just a few standards, these pieces are originals written by Adler. So what makes it sound so familiar? Perhaps it has something to do with the excellent players. All right, anybody could say it is not hard to find good “session” players in New York, but this is far more than that. Grant Stewart is one of the best (if not the best) tenor saxophone players in New York, and there aren’t many people playing the piano better in the world of jazz than Richard Samuels either.
It would be a huge mistake however not to mention Adler’s own playing. I have heard lots of good jazz guitar records, but the way he plays is simply impressive. The pleasant guitar sounds flow and stay in our ears unobtrusively. According to the CD liner notes, Adler learned a great deal from the early recordings of Joe Pass, the legendary guitar player. Listening to the result, this disciple deserves top mark!

Műszeroldal CD Reviews, Hungary (translated from Hungarian)

This is what I Like! Jazz which will be enjoyed by many, jazz performed by masters on their instruments. I am not familiar with these guys, but they are great, and deserve exposure. Thank you again for sending this excellent cd to me.

-Peter Kuller, Radio Adelaide, Australia

Today received Dan’s CD and was very pleased with this CD. This man has a great style and virtuosity so it will be great to give the CD airplay on my show.

-Joost Van Steen, Jazz & Blues Tour Radio – The Netherlands

Wonderful!!!!! Congratulations on your great playing.

Amikam Kimelman, Director, Rimon School of Jazz, Israel

I really enjoyed your CD! You sound beautiful on it and the Stewart bros. too!

Peter Bernstein

I really enjoyed it. You sound wonderful and your tunes are great…

Roni Ben Hur

Dan was very kind to send me a copy of his new CD. If you haven’t heard it, I suggest you do. It is well worth the price. Dan is a remarkable player and if you’re into real straight-ahead creativity, this is for you.

Dom Minasi

Dan was also kind enough to send me his CD. I was quite impressed with his playing (excellent sense of swing and story-telling in his improvs), the team performance of his mates, as well as choice of tunes.

Tony DeCaprio

Superb job on your new CD. Great solos from all the players and the sound/mix could not be any better. Five Stars. Much good luck and success to you!

Robert Conti

I listened to the CD in its entirety and I have to say I’m very impressed. Dan has Great tone, time and touch, as well as very good arranging, tune choices and programming. Thoroughly enjoyable. At times Dan reminds me of early Joe Pass, and at other times the arranging and vibe reminds me of Raney/Getz especially when the unison lines break off into harmony. Brilliant! Dan should be really proud of this one. The whole band sounds amazing. Dan is not only hanging with the great Grant Stewart but sounds so comfortable next to him. I can hear the joy and love for the music all throughout the disc. Highly recommended!

Steve Herberman

Dan, you really played well on this CD. Your chops, ideas and concept are all wonderfully fluid and delivered in top notch form. We had some dinner guests over Saturday night and I put it on for some background. One of our guests wanted to know which Joe Pass album we were listening to as he struggled to recognize it. The whole thing is very professional and you make it look easy.

Mark Kleinhaut

I just had the chance to listen to Dan’s CD. I have to say, I enjoyed it as much as just about any CD I’ve heard recently. Good choice of tunes, good arrangements, stellar ensemble playing and soloing from everyone. Dan sounds even better than I’ve already heard him play. Great feel, time, ideas, tone… it was a brilliant move to have Grant Stewart on this CD, I have several of Grant’s CDs so I’m already a fan of his playing. Great interplay and unison lines at times. And Dan’s solos sound extra inspired perhaps from exchanging ideas with Grant. More than I’ve ever heard from Dan before, his solos are well constructed complete statements. Never does the thread waver or lose direction. This CD sounds like it would be at home on my favorite label Criss Cross. I can’t say enough good things about it. Well done, Dan!

Kevin Van Sant

I really like the CD, it feels so right. Sometimes it sounds just like a lost Joe Pass session recorded for “Pacific Jazz”, and I hear some hints of the “Two Jims and Zoot” album during the head of “Sivan’s Samba”.

Holger Weber, Germany

I just recently received a copy of Dan’s CD “All Things Familiar” This one features an all star line up including Grant Stewart, Richard Samuels, Dmitri Kolesnik, and Philip Stewart. With guys like that how can you go wrong? If you are a fan of swinging jazz guitar lines played with impeccable technique and a New York cool, this is the one for you. My favorite was “You’d be So Nice To Come Home To”. Good luck, Dan!

Charlie Robinson

Dan and his band are to be commended. I hope this will be the first of many such recordings. Bravo!

Joe Finn

I have been listening to your CD yesterday and today. Very very nice. I really like the originals and also your treatment of the standards on there. Your playing is really marvelous – clean, smooth lines, very tasteful, not rushed, good tone, and great chops on “Blues for Keren” and “You’d Be so Nice”! The whole group sounds well rehearsed and the CD is certainly well recorded (no surprise in New York City). I’m also very impressed by the packaging and artwork. Dan, congratulations on a fine CD and I hope there is another one in your future.

Bob Roetker

I just listened to your new CD; my English is not good enough to describe my impression…so I think everything is already said by Peter Sprague – it’s pure beauty, congratulations!!! I like the sound of your guitar, the beautiful lines, and of course your amazing band.

Udo Wiemann, Germany

I was very excited to get your CD. Congratulations!!! I think its wonderful. I was very impressed with your playing and original compositions, especially the tunes dedicated to your daughters!

Aviv Livnat, Israel

CD discovery of the week. By now it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Grant Stewart’s. The tenor saxophonist has a big, granite sound that features shades of his own reed heroes, including Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt and Stan Getz. So it was a pleasant surprise to hear Grant featured prominently on Dan Adler’s new CD, All Things Familiar.

Adler is an Israeli guitarist who has played on the New York scene for the past 20 years, including dates with saxophonist Bob Berg and Steve Grossman and pianist Tardo Hammer. On All Things Familiar, Adler’s first CD that he also produced, the song choices are both smart and familiar. In addition to six engaging originals, Adler and Stewart have fine workouts on four standards.

The album’s standouts for me include Adler’s Sivan’s Samba and Bird’s Idea as well as a warm Star Eyes and an extra-tender version of Johnny Mandel’s Emily. The interactions between Adler’s guitar and Grant’s tenor sax throughout are close and well defined. The pair weave in and out of each other’s lines perfectly while teasing out the melodies that make these songs evergreen vehicles for jazz expression. The two musicians sound great together.

Also notable here are Richard Samuels on piano, Dmitri Kolesnik on bass and Grant’s brother Philip Stewart on drums.

What I like most about All Things Familiar is the sensitivity of the playing and respect for the standards chosen. Adler has an old-school ear and touch that harkens back to Chuck Wayne and Mundell Lowe. He’s more concerned with note choices and lyrical lines than exhibiting speed or riffs, which is a rare and welcome relief these days. You simply must hear Adler and Grant’s version of Emily. Johnny Mandel would love it.

Marc Myers, JazzWax.com, March 8, 2009

What we have here is an interesting reworking of the standard “All The Things You Are.” Guitarist Dan Adler pulls the original tune’s form slightly out of shape while keeping it firmly rooted in a jazz context. Adler and saxophonist Grant Stewart introduce it with brilliantly intertwined lines that generate the proper spark as the full band kicks in. After the first chorus, Adler is off on an inspired solo that recalls Jim Hall and Pat Metheny. Adler’s band is terrific in both the comping roles and solo passages. I particularly enjoyed Dmitri Kolesnik’s swingin’ bass runs that helped to anchor Richard Samuels’s piano solo. Tribute or cover? You won’t care. You’ll be having too much fun listening.

Mark Saleski, Jazz.com

Dan Adler’s new album “All Things Familiar” does indeed have familiar standards and also original compositions, which is not an unusual format. What is unusual is that the original material stands up very nicely to the better known chestnuts. Dan proves himself a clever song writer. I particularly like “If I Were a Jazz Man” and “Talia’s Waltz”. In a genre that includes Wes, Joe Pass, Tal Farlow, and Kenny Burrell, I am happy tell you that Dan’s new album fits in very neatly.

Rich Keith, PureJazzRadio.com

Among the legion of relatively unknown, emerging jazz guitarists, Dan Adler may be one of the best and brightest. His playing is strong, free of showy enthusiasm and deeply infused with technical savvy. Born and raised in Israel, where he studied physics under Mario Livio (author of Is God a Mathematician?), Adler has earned degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, has authored various technical works, and holds a U.S. patent. His eclectic jazz studies have been no less productive and he credits the streets of his adopted city of New York and mentors such as Jack Wilkins and Vic Juris for much of that. While such a marriage between art and science frequently produces little more than android eructation, Adler’s playing effectively walks the tightrope between the analytical and the emotional, producing finely crafted lines within which real blood flows.

Jerome Kern’s indomitable “All the Things You Are” has been elevated to (or some may say, victimized by) the status of quintessential form, a structural basis for new compositions ala “Rhythm” or “Indiana.” The changes are both irresistible and daunting, tempting many players to flex their muscles at increasingly impossible tempos. Adler has resisted that temptation, opting for eloquence rather than exuberance. Supported only by a solid sense of time, this piece opens with a swinging, relaxed interplay between the naked sax and guitar, merging into an intricate unison head as the rest of the ensemble jumps in. Adler’s solo is thoughtful, spontaneous, and rich in texture. Choruses from Samuel’s lyrical piano and Stewart’s ballsy tenor are equally satisfying.

All things considered, the jazz guitar world should become more familiar with Dan Adler.

Bill Barnes, Jazz.com

Dan’s CD arrived yesterday, and it is playing here in a loop since then. I love it! Very delicate and “to my taste”. The playing by all the members of the group, especially Dan and Grant Stewart, is fantastic. The music is not overly intellectual. There is a lot of beauty, depth and precision in it, and it is perfectly “in the style”. The sound of the group comes out very warm and well-balanced. The original compositions are very nice. I specially liked “Sivan’s Samba”, and I liked the way Dan gives respect to the Jazz greats and to Naomi Shemer, by using their chord progressions with a new melodic line.
Lastly, I was moved by Dan’s liner notes, and with the personal and family/(~familiar) “touch” of it. Very well-written and personal and on par with the music itself.

Ari Erev, Israel

I just received a copy of Dan’s brand new disc in the mail today, and I would like to add my congratulations and compliments to the already impressive list of accolades he’s received. It’s a nice mix of standards and originals. Dan, my favorite solo so far is on “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.” You make good melodic sense on that one, which is no easy feat at that tempo.

Clay Moore

Right off the top, anyone who can get tenor maven Grant Stewart on his disc is going to get my attention. Adler does that and more on an album nicely balanced between his own invigorating original material and evergreens like “Star Eyes,” “Emily,” “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to” and “I Love You.” Pick up on Adler’s single note style, and you know he’s spent time digging players with names like Pass, Kessel, Farlow, Montgomery, Burrell and others. No pretense here. No rebuilding the pyramids. Just some attractive, straight ahead playing!

George Fendel, Jazz Society of Oregon

Although it’s true that Adler’s jazz comes across feeling very “familiar”, his style and approach to things jazz is uniquely his, and that’s very comforting for the jazz aficionado, or the “occasional” jazz fan. His guitar stays nicely (although not obtrusively) out in front, and the players who join him hold their own all the way through the 10 cuts (6 are original Adler compositions, too, an extra added attraction for this reviewer)… Richard Samuels piano is wonderful, the bass from Dimitri Kolesnik is steady-on, drums by Philip Stewart totally punctual and there’s some stunning tenor sax from Grant Stewart… The music isn’t “in your face”, or too far off the beaten path, which sticks to the album theme, yet is infused with high energy to the point that you won’t soon forget this new musical acquaintance (though Dan’s been part of the NYC jazz scene for at least 20 years, this is the first time we’ve heard his work)… He’s also a very interesting person… you can find a wealth of information on his website, including jazz transcriptions, CD reviews & extensive music articles… that may be (in part) because he holds degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. You won’t hear any “weird” sonics, or technological marvels in this recording, though… it’s clear that Dan understands how to keep the “real” in his music… all very straight-up composition, with the music (and excellent talent) being the focus. It turns out that my favorite cut is the title track, probably because it’s one of Dan’s original compositions, but also because the players all get equal time on solo. My ears were also drawn (immediately) to “Sivan’s Samba”; clear Latin flavor, but some really robust sections that will stay in your ears. A very entertaining first round for Adler as a leader that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer.

Rotcod Zzaj – (Dick Metcalf) – Improvijazzation Nation

Jazz and culture has always had a healthy exchange, and the dialogue between one another has probably brought together more people and worlds than politicians. Or at least one can say that after hearing Dan Adler’s All Things Familiar (Emdan).

Adler had a love of jazz when he moved to the United States from Israel in 1986, and over the years played and jammed with the band. Now it’s a chance to truly hear him shine, and while he plays with the finesse of Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, and at times Pat Metheny, there is still a bit of his homeland’s influence, or at least when he throws out melodies that do not sound distinctively jazz, more folk and indigenous. Hearing him alongside pianist Richard Samuels, drummer Philip Stewart, bassist Dmitri Kolesnik, and saxophonist Grant Stewart sound as if these musicians were meant to play together. “If I Were A Jazz Man” has all of them exploring as many cultures in a 8 minute duration, while “Blues For Keren” gets you locked into a mood and moment that you don’t want to escape, and how they do it is brilliant.

The rest of the album… let me just say that I know I’ll be listening to this album twenty years from now, and in a vast world of jazz recordings where it seems there are over 40 releases a week, that’s saying something.

John Book, The Run-Off Groove

All Things Familiar is a sophisticated and well-executed outing from guitarist Dan Adler. A terrific supporting cast, including accomplished tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart, makes light work of the six originals and four standards on the disc. Adler seems to feed off the energy of his sidemen, as he excels throughout. The Cole Porter composition “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” oscillates between triple and duple time, but its most prominent feature here is a burning solo from Adler. The lines seem to fly right out from his guitar, despite the obvious difficulty inherent in their conception.

“All Things Familiar”, the titular track, is a reworking of the classic jazz vehicle “All The Things You Are”. Adler and Grant Stewart begin with a contrapuntal improvisation that demonstrates both musicians’ sensitivity, tact, and good taste, before moving on to the melody and individual solos. Adler’s lines are clear, methodical, and firmly grounded in a bevy of jazz guitar tradition. No one is trying to reinvent the wheel here. The musicians stick to familiar territory and style, but their expressive abilities allow them all to make impactful statements within their chosen idiom.

Grant Stewart’s saxophone blends especially well with Adler’s guitar on “Sivan’s Samba”, written for one of Adler’s three daughters. “Blues for Keren” and “Talia’s Waltz” round out Adler’s daughter trilogy. Pianist Richard Samuels and bassist Dmitri Kolesnik get a chance to shine with their sparkling accompaniment on the tune. Adler and Grant Stewart offer up a sensitive introduction to “Emily” before each take a turn running through the delicate harmonic progression. Kolesnik gets a brief spot in the limelight, doubling the melody with Adler on “Blues for Keren” and taking a short solo himself. It is perhaps in Adler’s personality to give each of his sidemen adequate airtime, which pays dividends to the listener in the form of an involved, attentive, and cohesive group.

It is always refreshing to find a modern-day bop record as lively and refreshing as All Things Familiar. The self-assured, competent playing of Adler and his sidemen is a testament not only to the music’s vitality but also to the work ethic and zeal required to master the genre. Dan Adler has shown his capability and more with All Things Familiar, an album that should easily be required listening for contemporary bop guitar aficionados.

Dimitry Ekshtut, Jazz Improv NY, May 2009

All Things Familiar is a wonderful recording from start to finish. Adler’s compositions are very pleasing and his arrangements are top notch. Highlights include the Adler originals If I were a Jazz Man and All Things Familiar as well as the readings of You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To and I Love You. Throughout the recording, Adler’s dark tone and solid post bop lines make him a joy to listen to. Add in the wonderful musicianship and interaction of the quintet and you have a project that you will be coming back to again and again…

Chip Henderson, Just Jazz Guitar, May 2009

All Things Familiar is a hard-swinging modern bop album led by guitarist Dan Adler. Adler has surrounded himself with a strong ensemble cast for the record, including pianist Richard Samuels, bassist Dmitri Kolesnik, drummer Philip Stewart and saxophonist Grant Stewart. The album rests firmly in the jazz tradition without sounding like a carbon copy of an historical recording. The group comes together to lay down tracks that are full of bop vocabulary, deep-pocket swing and highly-creative improvisations.

The tunes on the album are a mix of originals written by Adler and arrangements of classic jazz standards. Each arrangement is fresh and not simply a retelling of these often-recorded tunes. A great example of this is Adler’s arrangement of “Star Eyes”. While all the elements of the original tune are present in Adler’s version, he adds a series of dissonant piano voicings under the intro and A sections of the melody that immediately maks the tune his own. Before going too far with the dissonance, Adler brings the tune back into a swing feel with more standard voicings for the bridge, essentially cleansing the sonic palette before returning to the dissonant harmony for the final A section. It is moments like these that prevent the album from becoming a blowing session, as each of the standard tunes is approached from a new and unique angle.

Adler’s playing is consistently solid on every tune. Firmly steeped in the bebop tradition, rarely does a line go by that doesn’t exude a deep understanding of the genre’s vocabulary. Not that Adler is simply “running lines” in his solos, his playing goes much further than that. While many players will run long lines and phrases taken directly from classic bebop solos, Adler’s playing has evolved to the point where he is creating his own new and unique melodic ideas that use elements of bebop vocabulary, but are far from the realm of pure imitation. His solo on “Blues for Keren” is a great example of how Adler takes traditional vocabulary and makes it his own. The solo is full of short bebop motifs that Adler then warps and spins into new phrases that lift his playing to a level where it stands alongside some of the best modern bebop recordings of recent years.

All Things Familiar is filled with hard-swinging grooves, twisting and turning bebop based runs and smart and creative melodic interpretations. The rhythm section is tight and they constantly react to cues from the soloists, while throwing some back as well. All of which combine to lay down an album that is as easy to get into musically as it is intellectually engaging.

Matthew Warnock, AllAboutJazz.com, July 2009

You can hear an interview with Dan Adler (in Hebrew) on 106FM radio in Israel on this site:http://www.106fm.co.il choose the link that says: דו-בופ – 14-07-2009. It’s an hour long interview with excerpts from the CD….Adler’s new release shows just how much he has absorbed from his influences, as he displays dazzling technique and a warm burnished tone on the album’s original title track (included with the digital edition).

JAZZIZ Magazine (Page 30), Fall 2009