Jan Hammer: The Seventh Day
The Seventh Day
Jan Hammer (keyboards, percussion)
The First Seven Days (Columbia/Legacy)
Jan Hammer (keyboards, percussion),
Steve Kindler (violin).
Composed by Jan Hammer.
Recorded: Kent, NY, Summer 1975
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
The First Seven Days was the premier recording made at technology wiz Jan Hammer's newly built home studio. It was also Hammer's first album stateside on which he was the leader. A concept album, it is Hammer's loose nod to the Book of Genesis. Hammer plays almost every keyboard available at the time. Most notable is his continuation in advancing the dynamics of the Moog synthesizer and his use of the Mellotron. Hammer, a fine drummer, also handles the kit and other percussion. The album has a classical, progressive rock and jazz feel. From beginning to end it could be considered a keyboard suite. Violinist Kindler's participation is important, but limited. The record received raves and further confirmed Hammer's great talent outside the auspices of his Mahavishnu Orchestra experience.
"The Seventh Day" begins with a catchy and simple piano chordal exercise. Kindler and Hammer introduce the arrangement's head. Hammer plays a relaxed and satisfied Moog melody atop synthetic bass rhythms. The great concern in the early days of synthesizers was just how "synthetic" they should sound. That was worth worrying about. Many good musicians appeared silly trying to make the devices sound like a guitar or other instrument. Hammer got it right from the beginning. The less subterfuge, the better. He took advantage of the synthesizer to create a "Moog sound." He treated the Moog and its cousins as if they were instruments in their own right and not machines. So the sounds he creates on "The Seventh Day" are beautiful synthetic sounds. It takes a musician in love with both music and technology to make that happen. Hammer also understood that despite his capabilities, there was no need to show off his advanced technique. "The Seventh Day" and other very melodic cuts on the album are full of slow, meandering excursions and speed-demon runs. But you never get any sense that the playing is difficult or that Hammer throws in any extraneous flamboyance. The rest of the cut is a pleasant journey through Hammer's many sounds. There are choir-like evocations, galactic references and grand loops of drama before the day ends and true rest is attained.
Despite the critical acclaim for The First Seven Days, it has been somewhat overlooked in fusion history. Yet its sounds, recording methods and thematic nature are important milestones. The album has every right to be mentioned in the same sentence as any Mahavishnu, Return to Forever or Weather Report record as being vital to the jazz-rock experience.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky