Put your lips together and…
From an interview for Tonight By Theresa Smith April 2012
“My dad gave me a harmonica when I was 17, for Christmas. I tried to play it, but it was too difficult”, The offending instrument then went into a drawer for 10 years…
Adam became a pianist working on cruise ships and in restaurants “that’s how I learned to play”. A modest description, because he studied in Paris before the mid-1980s when he regularly worked with various South African jazz artists. On a cruise ship in the Caribbean, he met a harmonica player and asked for a couple of lessons.
“At the same time I discovered a Stevie Wonder album, Eivets Rednow, which is Stevie Wonder backwards. It was Burt Bacharach songs on this album. They were the most fantastic interpretations. When I heard that I thought, Hey, I’ve got one of those and I started to check it out.”
As a pianist the plan was to figure out where the notes were. He played both instruments at the same time to visualise the knotty technicalities, a skill he now uses on stage.
“But, having said that, Toots Thielemans, the world’s greatest harmonica player, was already a guitarist… You need another instrument to help you learn the harmonica, particularly for jazz”.
Being the son of South African composer Stanley Spike Glasser exposed him to all sorts of musicians, but he still had to find his own way to express his talent.
“I would never have dreamed I would be playing a jazz festival in Cape Town. It’s taken a long time and if there’s one thing I could suggest to people, it’s keep your nerve”.
While the harmonica still features under the miscellaneous category of jazz instruments, Adam not only plays it well but brings a uniquely South African touch to it.
He finally recorded his debut album Free at First in 2009. After winning a Sama for best contemporary album he really wanted to work with South African artists and prepared several tracks, and over a matter of days he worked with several artists to record Mzansi in September 2010, but it took another year of post-production to finish.
“Every single second of that album, I meant, there was nothing left to chance.”