Jan Hammer: Magical Dog
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 Jan Hammer.
Recorded: New York, April 1976
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
In 2006, Wounded Bird released 1976's Oh, Yeah? for the first time on CD. Prior to this you either had to have the original LP record or be satisfied with a couple of the tunes from that album that could be heard on the CD compilation The Early Years. That was not good enough for a fusion classic. Oh, Yeah? was Hammer's follow-up to Like Children, the record he made with ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra bandmate violinist Jerry Goodman. In essence it was Hammer's first solo album after Mahavishnu.
"Magical Dog" was the introductory song of his new band the Jan Hammer Group. At this time, electric guitar was the dominant sound in almost all of popular fusion. But there was no guitar within 50 miles of Hammer's new music. Slowly and surely his synthesizers would allow him to become "the guitarist" on his records. But the technology, or Hammer's desire for a guitar sound, wasn't quite there yet. Would fusion fans miss it? Maybe some did. But Hammer's music was so dynamic that only the anal retentive among us complained. "Magical Dog" was every bit the quality of music heard on Mahavishnu or Billy Cobham's Spectrum. Drummer Tony Smith, percussionist David Earle Johnson and bassist Fernando Saunders were big-time jazz-rock operators. Hammer was clearly the best musician on synthesizer at this time. Violinist Steven Kindler, fresh from the new Mahavishnu Orchestra, proved to be a real talent. Here, Hammer's composition had him and Kindler trading at fusion overdrive speeds. And it was all very musical. There was still a Mahavishnu sound to it all because of Hammer and the presence of a violin. But it was Jan Hammer music. "Magical Dog" was a favorite tune of the band to play live. I can understand why. It appeared that Jan Hammer would be among those who took fusion successfully through the decade.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky