Jan Hammer: Goat's Song
Jan Hammer (keyboards)
Maliny Maliny (MPS 1784595)
Recorded: Munich, Germany, August 1968
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
I first saw this record in a store in 1976. The album art featured the backside of a greased-up naked woman whose private parts were strategically hidden by a butterfly with wings splayed. Despite my hopes, I quickly discovered that the butterfly was not a removable sticker. (That's a joke!) The album, without Hammer's knowledge, had been renamed Make Love for U.S. consumption. According to the CD release liner notes, the new cover and title was a miscalculation on the part of a marketing company that thought it understood the U.S. consumer. The angle of view of the woman and the strange-looking grease applied to her back, thighs and buttocks actually took away from any titillation the female form may have offered. The image was really quite gross. But there is more to discover in the new liner notes. We now learn that the naked lady wasn't a lady at all. It was actually a work of sculpture! I say ick and double ick. MPS has thoughtfully included an image of each of the three different album covers Maliny Maliny releases have used.
"Goat's Song" is an organ blues groove performed with a frenetic urgency. Bassist George Mraz walks his bass at jogging speed as drummer Cees See spends most of his time applying brushes to cymbals. Hammer's right hand plays skittering yet fluid B-3 leads as his left comps and occasionally holds down a single note for an unusual sustain counterpoint. This is a killing organ trio. If Hammer had pursued this side of his career vigorously, we would be talking about him in the same breath as Larry Young and Jimmy Smith.
Ask nowadays about Jan Hammer, and people will say he was an important composer who helped introduce and revolutionize keyboard synthesizers in music. His skill on piano and organ, the synthesizer's root instruments, is often overlooked. That is why the CD release of Maliny Maliny is such a big deal. A great musician just doesn't appear out of nowhere. In this music you hear how part of Hammer's mind worked before he was introduced to synthesizers or was influenced by Indian music. If those things had not come along, he still would have been considered a great artist. That they eventually did was lucky kismet for us all.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky
Tags: 1960s jazz