Jan Hammer: Evolove
Jan Hammer (keyboards, percussion)
Oh, Yeah? (Wounded Bird WOU-437)
Jan Hammer (keyboards, percussion),
Steve Kindler (violin), Fernando Saunders (bass), Tony Smith (drums), David Earle Johnson (congas, percussion).
Composed by Rick Laird.
Recorded: New York, April 1976
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
I still remember my original Oh, Yeah? record with its strange colored LP center label and even stranger label name Nemperor. (In the first printing of my Mahavishnu book, I spelled Nemperor wrong. No one caught the mistake because that is such a weird-looking word!)
Nemporer Nemperor was the label controlled by Mahavishnu Orchestra manager Nat Weiss. I didn't know that at the time. But I did know that the composer of "Evolove" was former Mahavishnu bassist Rick Laird, so I looked forward to hearing the connection between Mahavishnu and the "new Jan Hammer."
Hammer's keyboards and Steven Kindler's violin mesh perfectly as they share and alternately trade Laird's low-key but sinuous fusion ballad. The tune's funk-veering midsection allows for some great Hammer soloing. No one controlled a synthesizer the way Hammer did. He was not trying to be flashy. In many regards, he was actually offering simple lines. But it's how you play those lines and where you place them that counts. Hammer is a master of positioning. The musicians drive "Evolove" to Groove Street before returning home.
It would be possible to think that since Rick Laird had been in Mahavishnu, and both he and Hammer wanted the opportunity to offer more of their own compositions to that band, that his buddy Jan Hammer could be throwing his old mate a bone by inviting one of his compositions. But this tune makes it on the merits.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky