Adam Bates holds a Master of Music degree in Contemporary Music at Western Oregon University. He plays vibraharp and arranges for the American Metropole Orchestra.
Adam's writing is deeply rooted in the Fusion revolution of the late 1960s and '70s, especially Miles Davis' albums In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew. What mostly interests Bates about these works is the importance of groove, and the idea that "swing" is just one of many ways to play eighth notes.
Adam's rhythmic language is built around a framework of small rhythmic ideas and compound meters that are combined to create new grooves that are challenging to the performer and rewarding to the listener. When committing these ideas to notation, he draws on the musical traditions of India and Eastern Europe in an attempt to convey what it feels like to be "in the pocket" of, for example, 15/8. He proposes that the cycles of grouped eighth found in North Indian classical music represent a kind of "biological Morse code."
Harmonically and melodically, Bates' influences include a wide spectrum of artists. He is fond of chord colors typical of later fusion artists such as Weather Report, Oregon, Chick Corea and Pat Metheny — harmonies consisting of major sevenths, suspended fourths or seconds and added upper extensions. With this harmonic palette, Bates strives to bridge the gap between what he calls "complex skyscraper jazz chords" and the triads and chord fragments typically used by rock and blues musicians.
Adam attributes his penchant for somewhat abstract melodies to his love for the music of Frank Zappa. He points out that "I have always tried to mimic Zappa's way of writing a seemingly disjunct melody with just the right amount of repetition to make it hum-able."