Thursday, July 17, 2008
Portrait of Adam Long
Last night I actually got to hang out with Adam Long again. Adam's living room in Midtown St. Louis is the go-to mixing and mastering studio for Broadway producer Robert Sher. Sher competes to produce original-cast recordings of Broadway musicals, and when his bids are winning, Adam is working. Constantly.
Lately, Sher has been winning, so Adam has been working, constantly - on Ring of Fire, Annie (3oth anniversary edition) and now Gypsy, which will be released on CD Aug. 26 followed by a mighty Grammy push.
Adam has been so busy that, even when I see him walking his dog (Mojo: A Space Oddity), all he can manage is an embarassed and distracted wave, with the leash hand, as he powers through cell phone messages he has no hope of returning.
Adam is a carrot-topped lad from Minneapolis, with an endearing, yokelly accent borne of the Northern Plains. He was high school homies with Michael Bland, Prince's longtime drummer. He also was present at the birth of the St. Louis hip-hop scene. When Nelly recently went looking for the masters of the original St. Lunatics sessions, Adam had them.
By any definition of "down," Adam is down. He has a spot in the raunchy video to The All Stars' "Do Whatcha Do" - arguably the hottest underground single in the history of the St. Louis scene, which Adam mixed and mastered. In fact, whenever I feel the need for some street muscle because of whacky stuff going on about the St. Louis American, the guy I call is somebody Adam first took me to see.
Nowadays, Adam is more likely to be mixing with Stephen Sondheim than a thug rap impressario. I am sure he'll be just as unfazed in a tux at the Grammys as he is in his Colonial-officer khaki shorts and shock-white tube socks pulled halfway up his shins, grinning at a crazy hip-hop DJ party (where they are said to do all sorts of things that never get printed in the papers).
Last night, he played my buddy John Eiler and myself some samples from his Broadway cast recordings. I was impressed with how much atmosphere and character he left in the vocal takes. There was no impulse to shine everything up. These takes really breathe. I hope his old hip-hop clients get their hands on Gypsy in particlar; that they chop and change it; screw with it.
One cool thing about having friends who are having success in the music industry is the fallout stories. Adam tracked Annie in New York on the same piano Bill Evans played on Kind of Blue and Glenn Gould played on The Goldberg Variations. The drummer in the Ring of Fire band was Ron Krasinsky, who played Animal's drum parts in The Muppet Movie and did the live drums for Dr. Dre's early tape loops.
As Adam would say, in his own goofy way, at the Grammys or among the most mobbed-out rappers you could imagine, "Super!"
My crude sketch here captures only his beautific smile. He was playing cello (oh, he also has chamber-chops as a cellist) at an Urban Future graduation banquet, warming up for K. Curtis Lyle.