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Jan Hammer - Jan Hammer Group: Oh,Yeah? CD (album) cover


Jan Hammer


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.25 | 72 ratings

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Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
5 stars Some background: 1. This has long been in my all time top ten selection of jazz rock albums. However, having only the vinyl version it hasn't had its fair share of play over the last 5 year, (cf. my favourite recordings on CD) - so now with the arrival of the CD I have been wondering if it still stands up as a personal timeless classic? 2. Soon after getting my first CD player, circa 1987 I drew up a list of 'must replace my now worn vinyl with CD'. This list totalled 107 LPs, many as obscure as you can get. Last year 106 was released and purchased i.e. 'Don Ellis Live At Fillmore', at which point I thought No. 107 - 'Oh Yeah!' - was doomed never to be issued. But earlier this year Jan Hammer received an award from Moog in NYC when he played music from 'Oh Yeah!' supported by the tribute band, Mahavishnu Project - at which point I grew more certain 'Oh Yeah!' was on its way.

'Oh Yeah!' is Jan Hammer's third solo album (the second for Nemperor) and probably the one with the strongest element of jazz rock running through all the tracks . The earlier Nemperor Records album 'The First Seven Days' had more emphasis on electronica, hinting to the future Miami Vice period. The first album had been recorded for the German label BASF: that straighter jazz. With the full catalogue of Hammer's solo and group albums now available on CD, a clear progression can be heard away from the jazz rock of Mahavishnu Orchestra, through funk and Latin towards straighter rock and then into electronica. With the third Nemperor release 'Melodies', Hammer & Co had moved more into funk (indeed lightweight soul) and more electronica.

With 'Oh yeah!' you will get the tight interplay between Steve Kindler's violin and Hammer's keys on some tracks, that had earlier characterised MO's music. But through their use of funky bass lines - from both electric bass and low register Mini-Moog - we are treated to more soulful, groove-based jazz rock than experienced from MO, e.g. check the title track. Some soulful vocals adding to this view. But what is perhaps unique iss the funk with violin - although both Michael White and Michel Urbaniak released funky violin albums subsequently. And then because of Hammer second musicial love, that of percusssion, funk gives way to Latin flavoured but still grooved-based jazz rock.

One track to pick out: Red & Orange. Jan Hammer plays quite a different, more jazz-based Hammond organ interpretation of this tune on John Abercrombie's 'Timeless ' (itself a great version). However, the 'Oh Yeah!' version has all the stops out and let the fireworks explode, reflecting the great energy and dynamics of the whole album.

Having not listened to this album properly for a couple of years, the CD has been set on continuous play over the last 3 days. I am reminded of a familar friend not seen for some times, but all the qualities came flooding back on reacquaintance. Indeed I was reminded why this is one of my top ten jazz rock album. Still a classic. (BTW the liner notes state Jan Hammer did the remastering).

After stating all that I cannot but give it the full 5 star rating!

Dick Heath | 5/5 |


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