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Jan Hammer - The First Seven Days CD (album) cover


Jan Hammer


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.09 | 51 ratings

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4 stars For a couple of years while I was finishing up with college (around 1975), Jan Hammer was "it". It was a transitional time in jazz, and while Mahavishnu was already starting to wane, Grover Washington and smooth jazz were coming on strong. Meanwhile, Jan hung in there and produced a couple of stunningly original albums - this one and "Oh Yeah". In retrospect, their place in the grand scheme of things fusion-wise was quixotic yet curiously enduring. They kind of stand alone as a testament to the times and foreshadowed later developments in electronic music with a kind of naive yet charming simplicity. I was pretty much like Jan and his music too - bold, at times a bit crass, but never dull - and so I really dug it.

Anyway, but "simple" is not really an appropriate term to use here. "The First Seven Days" is harmonically rich and paints dense, exotic colors with what electronic sounds were available at the time. It's really a series of vignettes or soundscapes with structure, each dealing with one aspect of the story of creation. Taken as a whole, this is Jan Hammer in all his glory - spacey, technically brilliant, funky, tender and unabashedly 70's in all its bold colors. Darkness/Earth in search of Sun starts things off well with a good old fashioned jam after an ominous, dark start. Light/Sun features Jan on piano and reminds me of the Mahavishnu Jan we all loved so well. His keyboard work has always been instantly identifiable. Next up is Oceans and Continents, one of my favorite tracks. Jan's soaring Moog hovers over a simple piano line, and the result is peaceful and tells a timeless story. The first side concludes with "Fourth Day - Plants and Trees, possibly his best work on the album. All of Jan's compositional skills and technical prowess are on display here as he temporarily shelves the Moog in this short but elegant piece.

Side two gets you rolling with a fun number, "Animals". It seems the animal life evoked a bit of funk and tribal drumming in Jan. You can almost see the chimps, zebras and gazelles strutting their stuff. "The Sixth Day-The People" seems to evoke a sunrise and indeed likely deals with the subject of the emergence of man. It feels like the animals are suddenly uncertain as to their future now. Will this spell their demise? Humans have now arrived on the scene, and you can almost imagine those first important questions are being asked here - who am I? How did I get here?

The final track, "the Seventh Day" is suitably grand and a wonderful way to close the album. It is resolute and builds to a terrific climax. What we've just witnessed is the work of a superior being, and its hand touches us all with spiritual enlightenment. Uplifting and proud, it marks the close of this notable album. "The First Seven Days" is ambitious, entertaining and a quintessentially charming example of that mind altering mid 70's era and the "dawn of the synthesizer age". Thank you, Jan - I wore this record out!!

aldri7 | 4/5 |


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