"Tony Adamo harkens back to a day that, for most modern listeners, never was: a time in the 50s and 60s when a small but influential cast of artists in jazz, poetry and movies oozed a dangerous, irresistible force that men admired and women wanted. The Rat Pack sort of had it, but for each Sinatra or Martin, there were hundreds of underground artists who lived more dangerously and closer to their creative edge. With jazz as the centerpiece, Adamo effortlessly visits this universe (“Just ride your thought on that groove…are you with me?”) where performers are “cats” that their fans “dig” or even “double dig”; where hipster artists “swing” with the beat, and music is a near religious experience for those immersed naturally or through chemical" —SOULTRACKS
Tony Adamo: In his own words...
I was born in San Francisco, with strong family ties to the Bronx and Brooklyn, New York. So dig this, up until my time in the US Navy, I never really thought about being a vocal hip spoken word artist. I was hip to bein’ a baseball player or a boxer. After the service, I was in many rock and jazz bands as a lead singer.
I did not dig poetry or spoken word at the time; it was only after I became a radio announcer, at KPLS radio Santa Rosa, CA that I began to dig the rhythm and delivery of my voice. I would have to write commercials for 30 second spots and deliver them on the radio. Lines would be poppin’ out of my brain all the time. I would spontaneously add lines to the commercials while delivering them on air. The PD and radio AD people did not dig that at all. Free flow radio was not in at the time. They decided to let me go from the radio gig. It was hip to be square at KLPS Radio. Man, I was light years from bein’ down to bein’ square.
After radio, I moved to L.A. with a band I was in. By day I went to work putting up billboards to workin’ on the rehab of the Hollywood sign to joining the studio utility’s Union. Working in the background on TV shows for Lorimar TV on, Eight is Enough, Chips and Dallas. That gig led me to landing a gig as a Hollywood agent at the Beverly Hecht Agency on Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA. While there, I booked TV commercials and models for print ads.
Many years later, I was still singing but not doin’ spoken word. I booked a recording session at a studio in Half Moon Bay, CA to record my new music. The producer, who was playing with Cold Blood at the time arranged for Mic Gillette and Skip Mesquite, Tower of Power original members, to record with me. We became fast friends and he later introduced me to Stephen “Doc” Kupka, co-founder of Tower of Power and owner of Strokeland Records. Over the next few years “Doc,” Mic, and Skip and Tom Politzer recorded on my early CD’s with Mic Gillette writing all the horn arrangements on Dance Of Love, Straight Up Deal And What Is Hip? Now what? Are ya in the groove?
My vocal hip spoken word career actually started six years ago, when my producer at the time called in drummer Mike Clark who had recorded on many of my previous songs. The song was Tower of Power’s, “Soul Vaccination.” The day before I had laid down a vocal hip spoken word track and was very hip to the fact that Mike Clark could bring out the groove that I needed to my lyrics. Mike laid down a couple of screamin’ drum tracks that he felt were some of his best ever. My producer was not satisfied with what Clark was doing and asked him to do many other takes. After that session I realized Mike was the producer I needed for my vocal hip spoken word.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.