Jan Hammer: Twenty One
Jan Hammer (keyboards, percussion)
Oh, Yeah? (Wounded Bird WOU-437)
Jan Hammer (keyboards, percussion),
Steve Kindler (violin), Fernando Saunders (bass), Tony Smith (drums).
Composed by Jan Hammer & Jerry Goodman.
Recorded: New York, April 1976
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
"Twenty One" comes as close to sounding like a Mahavishnu Orchestra tune as any on Oh, Yeah? You could easily imagine Jan Hammer and violinist Jerry Goodman playing this piece's riff-based head arrangement on any Mahavishnu album. It wouldn't take much more imagining to hear John McLaughlin joining in, either. But alas, there is no guitar. There is, however, the fantastic violinist Steven Kindler. His live performances with the second Mahavishnu group, on which he filled in after Jean-Luc Ponty left, and his time with the Jan Hammer Group still have people talking all these years later. From what I have gathered, though, Kindler sometimes walked to the beat of a different violinist. Artists can be that way. (Kindler would eventually try his hand at New Age music a few years later. I don't know what forces made him stray from jazz-rock, but I would suggest they were evil.) Influences aside, "Twenty One" is a very good fusion workout. Especially rewarding is a Hammer solo over Tony Smith's churning drums. Bassist Fernando Saunders gets plenty of opportunities to throw in some funk lines, and takes his own impressive solo to close out the piece. "Twenty One" ain't Mahavishnu, but its pedigree came from there. For a fusion fan like me still reeling from Mahavishnu's breakup, "Twenty One" was a welcome salve.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky