Jan Hammer: Red and Orange
Red and Orange
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: 100/100 (learn more)
There was a classic science-fiction movie made in 1964 that very few people seem to have seen called Robinson Crusoe on Mars. (Watch, I'll go on the Internet and find that the movie has a zillion underground fans and has spawned a religion. Give me a minute while I search. [Waiting … waiting ….] Alright, I'm back. Well, no new religion, but Wikipedia says the movie is "beloved" and a DVD came out in 2007. I question that "beloved" assertion.) Semantics aside, I think of the movie every time I hear Jan Hammer's masterpiece composition "Red and Orange." There is a 3- or 4-note repeating theme in the movie's soundtrack quite similar to a recurring element in "Red and Orange." You will have to hear this track (or John Abercrombie's Timeless featuring Jan Hammer) and see the Robinson Crusoe on Mars DVD to appreciate what I am talking about. All I know is that this very short motif has stayed with me for 45 years.
"Red and Orange" first appeared on Abercrombie's Timeless, where it was performed as a standard organ-guitar-drum trio number. While the instrumentation was standard, the performance from those future fusion stars was not. On this version from a couple of years later, Hammer is fully armed with synthesizers. The mode is still cosmic mystery but modernized, which is strange because we had still not yet put a man on Mars. In the movie they put a couple of men and a monkey on the Red Planet. One of the men, played by Adam West, dies when the spacecraft crashes onto the planet. The opening strains of "Red and Orange" would be perfect for the rocket descent. The survivor, played by Paul Mantee, hangs out with the monkey for the rest of the movie. This very odd couple finds a guy who looks like an American Indian, and discover they don't need oxygen to survive on Mars. That's as far as I will go. I don't want to be a plot spoiler. (Apparently Wikipedia has no qualms about that, though.) If they ever remake the movie, I demand they contact Mr. Hammer. The combustible energy of "Red and Orange" will consume all the oxygen on Mars and create a very dramatic plot twist.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky