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JAN HAMMER

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Jan Hammer picture
Jan Hammer biography
Country: USA (birth Place: Prague, Czechoslovakia, but now USA Citizen)

Genre: Jazz Rock Fusion/ Electronica



One of the major keyboard players of the last 35 years, JAN HAMMER has one of the most distinctive sounds and styles in the jazz rock and electronica. Indeed his career can almost be split into the earlier jazz & jazz rock and the later electronica periods, although through his very extensive session work, a man working many fields of music can be heard. As soon as you play one of his own records or one of the many records he has guested, you know immediately he is there.

Jan Hammer was born 17th April 1948, playing piano at the age of four, and by the age of 6 he was receiving formal classical training. At the age of 14 JAN was performing and recording professionally through the former Iron Curtain countries. He formed the JUNIOR TRIO in high school with bassist MIROSLAV VITOUS (future founding member of WEATHER REPORT and drummer ALAN VITOUS. Both JAN and MIROSLAV attended the Prague Academy of Muse Ans, devouring classes in harmony, counterpoint, music history, and classical composition. They both won scholarships to the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and with JAN's arrival in the United States in the summer of 1968, on the heels of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, JAN HAMMER immediately made up his mind to become a U.S. citizen, doing so soon after.

JAN HAMMER is a multi-talented, multi-facetted musician, who's talent range from being keyboardist/conductor with jazz diva SARAH VAUGHAN pre-MAHAVISHNU, to guesting on a thrash metal fusion album by the UK band NETWORK in the mid 90's - and most points in between. He has graced many jazz rock fusion albums of the 70's (playing both keyboards and drums at times), and been most successful in using his musical skills to TV theme music, and shown that this doesn't have to be mediocre wall paper, and so otherwise be easily forgotten.

JAN HAMMER's musical career has been based firmly on developing the classical, jazz and rock repertoire. Following his Berklee period work in the jazz field, he became one of the founder members of the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, one of the most successful jazz rock groups of the early 70's. However, during his tenure, he increasingly became frustrated that few of his compositions were used (e.g. 'Sister Andrea'), as was BILLY COBHAM, and at the same time bemused by the spiritual path taken by JOHN MCLAUGHLIN; (stories abound...
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Miami Vice: Music From the Television SeriesMiami Vice: Music From the Television Series
Soundtrack
MCA Records 1985
Audio CD$3.75
$2.93 (used)
Best of Miami ViceBest of Miami Vice
Soundtrack
Aao Music 2004
Audio CD$34.49
$17.35 (used)
Escape From TelevisionEscape From Television
Import
Island UK 1999
Audio CD$4.89
$7.74 (used)
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JAN HAMMER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

JAN HAMMER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.07 | 34 ratings
The First Seven Days
1975
4.28 | 57 ratings
Jan Hammer Group: Oh,Yeah?
1976
3.44 | 9 ratings
Jan Hammer Group: Melodies
1977
4.00 | 2 ratings
David Earle Johnson & Jan Hammer: Time Is Free
1978
1.96 | 7 ratings
Black Sheep
1979
2.33 | 3 ratings
Hammer
1979
4.00 | 4 ratings
David Earle Johnson & Jan Hammer: Hip Address
1980
2.93 | 8 ratings
Neal Schon & Jan Hammer: Untold Passion
1981
3.25 | 4 ratings
Neal Schon & Jan Hammer: Here To Stay
1983
1.28 | 6 ratings
Miami Vice - Music From The Television Series (OST)
1985
2.00 | 3 ratings
Snapshots
1989
1.26 | 4 ratings
Beyond The Mind's Eye (OST)
1993
1.24 | 6 ratings
Drive
1994

JAN HAMMER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 3 ratings
The Jan Hammer Trio: Maliny, Maliny [Aka: Make Love]
1968
4.08 | 4 ratings
Live in New York
2008

JAN HAMMER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

JAN HAMMER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
The Early Years
1986
3.00 | 8 ratings
Escape from Television
1986
5.00 | 1 ratings
No More Lies (with Neal Schon)
1998
3.00 | 1 ratings
Miami Vice: The Complete Collection
2002
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Best Of Miami Vice
2004

JAN HAMMER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Cocaine Cowboys
2007

JAN HAMMER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Jan Hammer Group: Oh,Yeah? by HAMMER, JAN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.28 | 57 ratings

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Jan Hammer Group: Oh,Yeah?
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by aglasshouse

5 stars Mahavishnu Orchestra's first (and arguably most prolific) incarnation came to a painful end in 1973, as a sudden rise in popularity and a series of calamitous recording failures suddenly turned the great Mahavishnu into less of what they originally were into more or less the John McLaughlin Group. The band's original lineup, however, was so bursting-at-the-seams with talent and skill that it's members couldn't help but go on to form formidable solo careers -- Billy Cobham would traverse the jazz fusion path himself with Spectrum in 1973, and Jan Hammer, after collaborating with fellow musician Jerry Goodman, debuted his own solo material with The First Seven Days in 1975.

The album was well-received, and showcased the excellent skill Hammer obviously had. He continued on with the jazz- fusion shtick until the 80's, where he found himself composing film and television scores for such programs as Miami Vice. For the time being however Hammer really got in the swing of things and, not but a year later, delivered the facetiously titled Oh, Yeah? in 1976.

It's common for musicians to take an album or two to really get going, and get going Hammer did. Oh, Yeah? is a romp through some of the most thought-provoking and challenging sides of the jazz rock genre, whether it be the thumping bass/timbale combination of 'Bambu Forest', the eclectic and insane callbacks to Mahavishnu on 'Twenty One', or the driving openers and closers, 'Magical Dog' and 'Red and Orange', respectively. Almost every single song has something different to say in their own right, such as the throwing in of drummer Tony Smith's soulful vocals on 'One To One'. Jan Hammer and his band utilize an almost proto-80s synth culture to design Oh, Yeah? to be a sort of generational bridge that sits on neither side of the waters. A culture clash it may be, but it's a good one. Jan Hammer himself is the main pioneer in this regard, and with his effective use of a gamut of different synthesizing and keyboard effects it's easy to see why his more progressive electronic leanings make a greater impact than the likes of new age artists like Jean Michel Jarre did.

Towering and powerful, Oh, Yeah? is a can't-miss album, not only of the jazz fusion genre but of 70's music in general. It is the definition of a passion-project and is justly the penultimate release of Hammer's career.

 The First Seven Days by HAMMER, JAN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.07 | 34 ratings

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The First Seven Days
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Suedevanshoe

5 stars Jan Hammer blazes a new trail on his first solo album post-Mahavishnu. "The First Seven Days" is a very compelling listen. Instead of in your face jazzrock, Hammer goes progtronica.

The titles of the songs and the elastic mood of the music does a terrific job portraying the concept of the beginning of the world laid out in the Christian Bible. Hammer is about the only musician you hear, except for an extra percussionist on two tracks and a violin on four tracks.

Every note is quality. I should think most discerning prog listeners would put this somewhere from good to great, in my house it's great. Definitely a mood piece though, when taken cover to cover.

For some reason, this album has always reminded me of the album "Layers" by Les McCann. Probably because they're both one man synth mood workouts, probably because they are both in my top 50 albums.

 Jan Hammer Group: Oh,Yeah? by HAMMER, JAN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.28 | 57 ratings

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Jan Hammer Group: Oh,Yeah?
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Jan Hammer unleashes a funky style of fusion on Oh Yeah? which sets it aside from his previous solo effort (The First Seven Days), which was a more laid back affair. Whereas on The First Seven Days Hammer seemed to be working through some ideas which wouldn't have fit in the Mahavishnu context, here Hammer produces his own vision of where the Mahavishnu Orchestra's style of vision might have developed. (Notably, there's actual guitar this time around courtesy of Steve Kindler, though Hammer does use his synths to create a faux-guitar effect once again here too.) Invigorating stuff which will appeal to Mahavishnu Orchestra fans, though as far as funk-fusion in general goes it has quite a bit of work before it hits the standard of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters work.
 Jan Hammer Group: Oh,Yeah? by HAMMER, JAN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.28 | 57 ratings

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Jan Hammer Group: Oh,Yeah?
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It's Hammer time ! Oh yeah it is (groan). Sorry about that I just couldn't resist. I have to agree with Dick and Slarts on their thoughts and rating for this one.This is the [&*!#] people. I must say I was very surprised with this one after spending considerable time wih his previous album "The First Seven Days".That was such a laid back and subtle album, very intricate and very far away from what Jan's previous band MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA was doing. Well "Oh, Yeah ?" is very MAHAVISHNU-like. Actually it's like a MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA / Herbie Hancock hybrid. This is energetic, dynamic and lights out good. We even get a composition from Rick Laird.The drumming from Tony Smith is unbeliveable, and Steven Kindler on violin simply shreds. We get a percussionist as well, and then there is Hammer with his variety of keyboards and synths. He has this Minimoog-Oberheim synth combination that sounds just like a guitar.

"Magical Dog" has this fantastic keyboard intro as the violin comes and goes. Nice prominant bass too. It's all so crisp and intricate. A calm with electric piano and violin follows. Nice. Percussion joins in then it kicks back in around 2 1/2 minutes.This is an amazing section. It sounds like guitar before 5 minutes.

"One To One" is a vocal track with a funky groove. What up ! "Evolve" is the Laird composition.The bass, percussion and electric piano sound amazing.Violin joins in then check out the drumming before 1 1/2 minutes.Violin then leads, then synths, then back to violin. Electric piano and percussion end it.

"Oh,Yeah ?" opens with drums as bass and electric piano join in. Synths too in this catchy song. Violin after 3 minutes. Drums and vocal expressions end it. Nice. "Bambu Forest" is probably my favourite. It's dark and powerful to start and very MAHAVISHNU-like. Love the drum work here. It sounds like guitar wailing away before 2 minutes as it continues for some time.Violin 3 1/2 minutes in.

"Twenty One" has some incredible violin and drumming in it early on.The violin is ripping it up.The synths and drums lead before 3 1/2 minutes. Man this song is a show-case for the drummer. Amazing ! "Let The Children Grow" opens with piano as the vocals join in. It's fuller before 1 1/2 minutes as the contrasts continue. A catchy tune.

"Red And Orange" opens with some killer drum and bass work. Electric piano joins in then violin and percussion. Powerful stuff. Some crazy synths 6 minutes in. A top three track for me.

A must for JRF types.

 The First Seven Days by HAMMER, JAN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.07 | 34 ratings

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The First Seven Days
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I wasn't expecting this when I picked this up. The former keyboardist for MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA has created an album here that is almost the polar oposite to what his former band used to release. Maybe that isn't too surprising since they didn't breakup in exactly the best of terms as it seemed to be a McLaughlin versus the rest of the band attitude before they folded the tent. So yeah none of that high energy, intense fusion that we were used to hearing. I always think of this guy that came in my store a few years ago and we got talking about music and MAHAVISHNU ORHESTRA came up and he related how he couldn't listen to "Birds Of Fire" all the way through because it just too much for him. I was grinning when he told me that. It was just too overwelming for him. He should listen to "The First Seven Days" because this is about as laid back as your going to get. In fact I kept thinking of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays' "When Witchita Falls..." album. This was the first record Jan produced for himself in his newly built studio in his home in upstate New York.This is all about Hammer and the variety of keyboards he employed including piano, Fender Rhodes, electric piano, moog, sequencers, synths, string synths and mellotron. While I wouldn't call this a mellotron album it is on all but one track but it's used in the background usually. I do like when the mellotron choirs come to the fore though.There is a guest percussionist and violinist helping out as well.

"Darkness / Earth In Search Of Sun" opens with a spacey atmosphere including mellotron.The synths start to kick in before 2 1/2 minutes followed by drums as the atmosphere disappears.Great sound ! Jan describes this song as feeling like your lost groping in the dark when suddenly this gigantic globe which is slowly spinning reveals itself. "Light / Sun" opens with piano then it turns spacey before 2 minutes as the piano stops.The tempo picks up 4 minutes in then back to that spacey sound after 5 1/2 minutes.

"Oceans And Continents" is as Jan describes "Probably the most visual piece on the whole album, this goes back to Van Gogh, painting vast brush strokes from left to right and as far as the eye can see, a landscape painting". Piano to start then these intricate sounds come in after 2 minutes. "Fourth Day-Plants And Trees" is a short, laid back piece that reminds Jan of his homeland. "The Animals" is percussion and synths led early on. Cool sound. A change 4 minutes in as it becomes a little more aggressive.

"Sixth Day- The People" is as Jan describes it "turning from pure acoustic into a much more lush electric thing, the entrance of people, humans". Mellotron ends this one in style. "The Seventh Day" is Jan's ode to joy so he says. Piano to start then it becomes fuller a minute in. Nice. Even fuller 5 1/2 minutes in.

A good album that i have to be in the right mood for. A low 4 stars but this one is an interesting and laid back listen.

 Black Sheep by HAMMER, JAN album cover Studio Album, 1979
1.96 | 7 ratings

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Black Sheep
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

2 stars Please, Hammer, don't hurt us!

I can sort of understand what Jan hammer was trying to do on this album. Up to this point, he had been primarily playing fusion. But here he wanted to establish himself as a rock synthesist. And he almost succeeds. On Jet Stream, Heavy Love and Jimi Hendrix' own Manic Depression, he actually achieves a Hendrix-like tone. His problem is that his songs kind of suck. Lyrically lame, and dead sounding in production, I wonder if raising Jimi himself from the dead could have helped this album.

Besides a few decent solos, Light Of Dawn, a ballad is not bad. It sounds similar to some of the ballads Jack Bruce has recorded over the years.

My LP, bought used decades ago, still has the fifty cent price tag on it. I wonder if I paid too much.

 Live in New York by HAMMER, JAN album cover Live, 2008
4.08 | 4 ratings

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Live in New York
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DoctorNerve

4 stars Truely epic solos from Jan Hammer on this release. Red and Orange is simply on fire. Hammer throws down some fantastic solos. Steve Kindler lays down some impressive violin solos as well. Tony Smith is superb throughout. I Remember Me is another highlight for me. The drums and interplay are top notch. If you want to pick up some Jan Hammer post Mahavishnu Orchestra this is a good one to get. The only problem I have is the obvious editing on a few tracks... plus you just know there is more music out there from this show they had to have dropped for the release. HOT!
 The First Seven Days by HAMMER, JAN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.07 | 34 ratings

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The First Seven Days
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Koper

5 stars Wonderful album, one of the all-time greats in progressive music (at least in this jazz-rock oriented sub-genre) and, in my opinion, highly underestimated. It would be, however, classified predominantly as progressive-electronic because the presence of fusion and jazz elements is more difficult to observe than in other Jan Hammer's albums (most significantly audible in "Plant and Trees" and "Animals"). Fortunately, Jan Hammer decided to resign here from the exploration of funky-territory and soul-like vocals like on albums "Like Children" and "Oh-Yeah!". "First Seven Days" is archetypical concept-album, where the myth of world creation from Holy Bible's Genesis is illustrated by seven tracks (days), different in terms of moods and styles. All tracks are clear-instrumental, full of strong melodies and complex rhythms. Opening ("Darkness") and final ("The Seventh Day") are exceptionally beautiful and emotional. Sound landscapes and sonoric detailsare highly refined as for 1975. Masterpiece, five stars.
 Drive by HAMMER, JAN album cover Studio Album, 1994
1.24 | 6 ratings

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Drive
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

1 stars "Please Hammer, don't hurt us!"

Well there's not much chance of getting hurt from this handful of cotton balls that Jan Hammer is lobbing at us on this album. Yes, the once fiery keyboardist is now serving up ladles of cold bland soup. Even the presence of the great guitarist and long time Hammer cohort Jeff Beck can't raise the level of this turkey. Just turn on the weather channel, or that channel that only shows automated weather maps of your area, and listen to the bland background dreck. Quiet Storm? This isn't even a light drizzle. I know Hammer can do better than this.

 The First Seven Days by HAMMER, JAN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.07 | 34 ratings

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The First Seven Days
Jan Hammer Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars First post-MO album from Hammer, and a bit of a surprise move, away from the usual JR/F that we expect from him. While there are jazzy touches on TF7D, this is definitely more of an electronic music album, probably the one that gave him his electronic wizard reputation. Coming with an acclaimed artwork (although I find it completely average and even borderline overly naïve), this is a concept album (Jan disclaims it, but it's tough not thinking of it as such) that relates the Christian genesis of our world, without the religious content. This was his first shot at producing an album, and he did so in his brand new studio at home, somewhere in upstate New York and he plays every instruments on it, which means a wide array of keyboards and drums/percussions.

The album starts on some strong mini-moog, mellotron-filled track In Search Of A Sun, but the following Sun/Light is less enthralling, with the Sun part an unconvincing piano piece, while the Light sounds like it comes from rejected Tomita tapes, although this is not as violent a criticism you would believe (early Tomita s extraordinary stuff). Similarly to Sun, I find Oceans And Continents boring repetitive piano pieces, sometimes interrupted by a clumsy Wakeman or Emerson personification on synths over a bunch of synth layers. Plants and Trees sound like a Debussy piano piece (although Hammer was probably thinking more of Dvorak when writing it).

The flipside starts on the third day and Animals. The anachronic jungle beats might induce you to hear wild animals, but normally there is no humans yet to make these drum beats yet. I find this piece quite clumsy and dated, no matter my previous remark. The People has Jan playing some violin (real? 'cos the guitars on the second track was fake), while Seventh Day returns to the uneventful Sunday of a certain creator already bored of his new toy. Maybe Jan was bored as well.

While I've always respected Hammer's career and achievements, I've often been irritated at how some people make him out to be such a wizard of electronic music and especially at calling this album a masterpiece to be filed among the best. It would be easy to say that somehow Hammer missed the nail with this album, but it's more complex than that!! While TF7D is a good album, we're far away from the Germans, or Isao Tomita, etc. let alone some of the more adventurous Hancock in terms of electronics: Hancock's electronics in Mwandishi and much later with Rock It is certainly a worthy answer to Hammer's Miami Vice (BTW: I find both pieces atrocious piece of 80's crap). While usually hailed as a masterpiece by many, I beg to differ about this album, but I'm one in a small minority... But don't say I didn't warn you.

Thanks to dick heath for the artist addition.

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