Kevin Adams and David CateThe Blue Ridge Jazz Ensemble grew out of a passion and love for old improvisational jazz from the cool era of Miles and Monk.

Shortly after the turn of the century I met up with Kevin Adams and Derek Helvey at Indian Springs Christian Church in Blountville, TN. It was there that we started to experiment with some of the jazz standards we grew up with and that eventually turned into a living room jam session to dive deeper into the artwork.

Originally, the ensemble include Kevin on sax, my high school friend Derek Helvey on guitar, Bo Bradley on bass and good friend for life, Steve Thompson on drums.

These sessions turned into a group that would eventually play a few gigs around the region and most notably a performance on WETS-FM with Dave Carter. This was our first performance live and a rough one at that.

The Blue Ridge Ensemble eventually fell subject to obligations that caused the band to dissolve the big group as Derek was working out of town and found it hard to balance the music, a new home and his job. Steve suffered a tragic loss as his wife Debbie passed away and was never to pick up the music forward.

Ultimately, it was Kevin Adams and I who kept in contact and booked alot of gigs playing as a duo.

Thinking back, these were some great performances too. We would show up in black suits, blue shirts – Kevin would don his hat and black overcoat and we would smoke cigars and drink wine.

That’s about as close as we came to “jazz cats” that I know.

Together, we performed for Jazz at Allandale with Charlie Goodwin and Rick Simerly. There were gigs at Fun Fest, fundraisers, Java J’s, private cocktail parties and more over the 12/16 month period.

There were also a number of recordings from this period and as a musician it was one of the most ambitious times as an artist. Playing without a net (full band), Kevin and challenged each other with our improvisations and we’re the better for the union. My obligations with Reagan Boggs and Kevin’s work at church ultimately dissolved this venture, but I still long to work with him anytime. He’s a great instrumentalist!

2001-2003 – The Blue Ridge Jazz Ensemble
Studio One Performance on WETS-FM – May 25th, 2001

Dave Carter, Mike Strickland and all the folks at WETS-FM in Johnson City have been supporting live music in Northeast Tennessee for well over 30 years with their unique Saturday special programming called ‘Studio One.’

Live radio is always a challenge and it’s easy to rush, flub a note or get totally obsessed about all you do wrong rather than all you do right. This is not a recorded statement of originality and excellence, but rather courage.

Kevin Adams – Saxophones
Bo Bradley – Bass Guitar
David Cate – Piano
Derek Helvey – Guitars
Steve Thompson- Drums

Blue Ridge Jazz Trio – Maiden Voyage – Herbie Hancock: 6mb
Careless Disregard For Time – Improvisation – Blue Ridge Jazz Trio on Studio One
Blue Ridge Jazz Ensemble – Blue In Green – Miles Davis ; 2.8 mb
Blue Ridge Jazz Ensemble – Four on Six – Wes Montgomery ; 4.4 mb
Blue Ridge Jazz Ensemble – Monk’s Dream – Theloniuos Monk ; 3 mb
Blue Ridge Jazz Ensemble – Round Midnight- Theloniuos Monk ; 5.9 mb
Blue Ridge Jazz Ensemble – So What – Miles Davis ; 5.9 mb
Blue Ridge Jazz Ensemble – Scrapple from The Apple – Charlie Parker ; 5.9 mb

After Blue Ridge Jazz dissolved, Kevin Adams and I continued to experiment with our favorite songs and here is an archive of those moments.

John Coltrane’s Equinox – David Cate and Kevin Adams
Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage – Kevin Adams, David Cate and Steve Thompson
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – David Cate & Kevin Adams
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 2.0 – David Cate & Kevin Adams
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – David Cate, Kevin Adams and Steve Thompson
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat – David Cate & Kevin Adams