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Hampton-Adair Music Scores Showtimes ?Barbershop

Serving up a musical mix ranging from old school jazz to the latest hip hop beats, award-winning composers Steve ?Bone Hampton and John Adair have wrapped up work on the first season of Barbershop, the Showtime original series about life in a Southside Chicago barbershop. Hampton and Adair wrote the series main title theme and provided original music for the series. Additionally, they created remixes and provided licensed music for the show.

Created by executive producer John Ridley, Barbershop is based on the popular film series and centers on a barber (Omar Gooding) whose shop serves as a hub for the surrounding African-American neighborhood.

The music for the series is reflective of the colorful diversity of the series cast, subject matter and situations. ?The barbershop is a multi-cultural, multi-generational meeting place, and its that blending that provides the series with its humor and social relevance, said Brad Hamilton, executive producer of Hampton-Adair Music. ?Because the setting for the show is contemporary Chicago, its music has a hip hop backbone, but there are frequent flashbacks and fantasy sequences that take us back to the 70s, the 60s and even farther back, and the music travels along with it.

The time-bending cultural mix is best exemplified by the shows theme music, which Hampton and Adair wrote as part of a competition with other composers. Although the song is firmly rooted in hip hop, it contains clarinet sprinklings evocative of an earlier era in African-American music. ?John played some clarinet lines that recalled the jazz scene that was going on in Chicago in the 1940s, explained Hamilton. ?We took those sounds and cut them up so that they fit right in with the hip hop, and its that fusion that really sums up and captures what the shows all about.

As they moved on to creating cues for the body of the show, Hampton and Adair continued to show an uncanny knack for conjuring up music that provided the perfect accent for the shows hilarious twists and turns. ?I call them ?first take composers, said Barbershop associate producer Ben Zlotucha. ?Well give them a timing and a feel, and their first take is usually right?in fact its usually pretty spectacular.

Even when they are able to nail cues with their first try, Barbershop keeps the composers very busy. One typical episode called for a whopping 52 music cues, including some 35 that involved original music. Other cues required combing through music libraries to find an appropriate track or remixing an existing piece of music. For one recent episode, Hampton and Adair remixed the Harry Nilsson song Everybodys Talking at Me, giving it a hip hop groove.

One of the things that distinguishes Hampton and Adair is their ability to give a show a distinct and appropriate musical identity. ?None of the shows that we have worked on sounds the same, each has a musical signature, Hamilton said. 

Hamilton added that within the confines of that signature, there is always plenty of room for variation. ?We spend a lot of time in initially creating a sound that works for the show, he said. ?But once we have that, we can begin to develop it, as the show itself continues to grow and develop. The sound expands over time.

According to Zlotucha, Hampton and Adair are successful because they understand musics place in a show. ?They get it, he stated. ?There is a tendency among some composers to put the music before the show. Steve and John put the show first?and in doing so, they deliver music that really drives it. The results are amazing.

Hampton-Adair Music is located at 1615 16th St. Santa Monica, CA 90404; (310) 399-6900.

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