Bruce Adams was brought up in a musical family. His father Bob was a guitarist whose career extended back to the British dance bands of the 1930s and his mother was a dancer.
Bruce’s first real musical interest was the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Consequently, Bruce’s first instrument was the guitar. He made the switch to trumpet in 1962 when his father bought him one for his eleventh birthday. Within five months Bruce played his first gig on trumpet.
By the time he was twelve, Bruce was working three to four nights a week in the Glasgow area playing in small dance band residencies and performing in a cabaret act with his father. When he was fourteen he was sponsored on Hughie Green’s Opportunity Knocks by British trumpet legend Nat Gonella.
In 1966 aged fifteen Bruce left school in Glasgow and went on the road with his father starting with a summer season in Brighton and other theatres up and down the country.
Plus hundreds of gigs in northern working men's clubs as well as Expo 67 in Montreal. Combined Services Entertainment shows in Aden, Malta Libya, and Cyprus, working with Hughie Green and Tony Hancock.
There followed a spell in Cabaret for Cunard and P&O then back on the club circuit.
The Act continued until 1973 when Bob’s health made him give up the business and the act disbanded.
From 1973 onwards, Bruce got involved in the local jazz scene in Glasgow first by forming a jazz quintet with alto saxophonist Bill Fanning, one of the stalwarts of Scottish jazz. Bruce and Bill eventually went to form a big band together. At the same time, Bruce was also playing in the Mecca Ballrooms, first with Benny Daniels in the Plaza then Bill Patrick in Tiffany’s (the old Locarno).
Bruce also joined the big band formed by Glasgow Drum legend George McGowan. The Band entered the 1982 Holsten Big band Competition, where Bruce won the best Trumpet prize and the 'Oustanding Soloist Prize'. The Judges were Buddy Tate, Doc Cheetham, and Max Jones.
Two years later, the band entered the BBC Big Band competition, and Bruce won the Trumpet Soloist prize.
Bruce at this time was also playing with the Scottish Radio Orchestra and Scottish Dance Band legend Tommy Sampson.
Jazz Festival Years
In the mid-eighties, Bruce was working with singer Fionna Duncan who suggested to Mike Hart, Festival Director of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival that he should use me for the Festival. This resulted in Bruce becoming a regular at the festival for several years. During this period, Bruce worked with Harry Sweets Edison, Warren Vache, and Spanky Davis. Buddy Tate, Al Cohn, Benny Waters, Danny Moss, Bruce Turner, John Barnes Bob Wilbur. Dan Barrett, Roy Williams, George Chisholm, Bill Allred. Dave McKenna, Ray Bryant, Dick Hyman, Art Hodes, Johnny Parker, and Stan Greig.Milt Hinton, Ronnie Rae, Len Skeat, and Dave Green. Jake Hanna and Gus Johnson.
Through the festival, Bruce Joined Mike Hart’s Scottish Society Syncopators. The band toured extensively in Germany, America, and Canada. This resulted in playing at the Sacramento Jazz Festival, Victoria Jazz festival British Columbia, Cork Jazz Festival, Femo Jazz Festival in Denmark, Eindhoven Jazz festival in Holland, and various festivals in Germany. The downside to these gigs is that the band had to wear kilts.
In 1986, the newly formed Glasgow Jazz Festival booked Bruce”s new quartet and asked him to be part of the Benny Carter Big Band featuring some legendary names from different eras of the British Jazz and big band scene. People like Bobby Orr, Tommy McQuater, John McLevy, Brian Rankine, Gordon Campbell, Duncan Lamont, Jimmy Hastings, Andy McIntosh.
In 1990 Bruce was booked for an extensive tour in Germany with Bill Alldred’s tribute to Matty Matlock’s Paducah Patrol Band featuring: Bill and John Allred on Trombone, Bruce, and Tom Saunders on Trumpet/Cornet. Kenny Davern Clarinet/Terry Myers, Tenor Sax/ Danny Moss Baritone Sax, Eddie Higgins on Piano, Marty Grosz guitar, Major Holley on Bass and Warren Sauer on Drums.
This band came together again for festivals in Berne Switzerland and Decatur Illinois.
Bruce has worked extensively in Europe with Pascal Michaux, Charly Antolini, and Pete York, playing clubs and festivals in Norway, Finland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, and Slovenia.
About this time Bruce recorded his first album for Jim Simpsons Big Bear Music entitled “One Foot in the Gutter”. This was followed by The first of several collaborations with Alan Barnes called “Sidestepping”. Bruce and Alan’s next album,” Let’s Face the Music and Dance”. followed about a year later. Both of these albums won CD of the year in the British Jazz Awards. Bruce about this time became part of the reformed Kenny Baker Dozen. For more Albums see discography.
For several years Bruce played the Cat Anderson Chair in Pete Long’s Echoes of Ellington culminating in a tour with the Birmingham Royal Ballet playing the Cat Anderson solo on “The Madness in Great Ones. Apart from being a featured guest soloist with the BBC Big Band, Bruce also worked with the band on a freelance basis, playing for Lennie Niehaus, Gerald Wilson, and Patti Austin. Bruce also played in the Cuban Fire Concert with Horatio el Negra Hernandez and Giovanni Hidalgo.
Bruce has featured as a guest soloist with the following big bands. Fat Chops Big Band, Nottingham Jazz Orchestra, The Scottish National Orchestra Big Band, Bobby Deans Big band Glasgow, Cote Ouest Big Band Nantes, The Hitchen Big Band Nimes. The Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra, The Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra, The Smokin Big Band Newcastle, and the BBC Big Band.
Bruce’s partnership with Alan Barnes continues to this day with their quintet and many of Alan’s suites for Septet and Octet.
Bruce is a multiple British Jazz Awards Winner, having been nominated more than twenty times.
Bruce continues to ply his trade encompassing jazz styles ranging from Louis Armstrong to the modern-day.