Fusion / Jazz Related Improv/Composition / Pop/Art Song/Folk / Jazz Related Rock • Czech Republic
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JAN HAMMER picture
Czech composer and polyinstrumentalist, born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Because of the Russian invasion, in 1968 he went to the USA, where he started his musical career with the legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra. He worked with many different musicians, including Jeff Beck, Al DiMeola, Eric Clapton, Jerry Goodman, Mick Jagger and others. He also led his own Jan Hammer Group from 1976 till 1980. As a player, he is quickly recognizable for his excellent guitar-like solos. Jan Hammer is a famous music composer for many TV shows between the 1970s and 90s. The most famous one is Miami Vice, he wrote the music for 90 episodes (4 first seasons) and he's the creator of the worldwide #1 hit theme song : Crockett's Theme. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License and may also be available under the GNU FDL.
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JAN HAMMER Discography

JAN HAMMER albums / top albums

JAN HAMMER The First Seven Days album cover 3.93 | 7 ratings
The First Seven Days
Fusion 1975
JAN HAMMER Jan Hammer Group : Oh, Yeah? album cover 4.31 | 8 ratings
Jan Hammer Group : Oh, Yeah?
Fusion 1976
JAN HAMMER Jan Hammer Group : Melodies album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Jan Hammer Group : Melodies
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1977
JAN HAMMER Hammer album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 1979
JAN HAMMER Black Sheep album cover 1.76 | 3 ratings
Black Sheep
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1979
JAN HAMMER Escape From Television album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Escape From Television
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 1987
JAN HAMMER Snapshots album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 1989
JAN HAMMER Beyond the Mind's Eye album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Beyond the Mind's Eye
Jazz Related Improv/Composition 1992
JAN HAMMER Drive album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fusion 1994
JAN HAMMER Seasons Pt. 1 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Seasons Pt. 1
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2018

JAN HAMMER EPs & splits

JAN HAMMER live albums

JAN HAMMER Malma Maliny (aka Make Love) album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Malma Maliny (aka Make Love)
Fusion 1969

JAN HAMMER demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

JAN HAMMER Jan Hammer Group ‎: Live album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jan Hammer Group ‎: Live
Fusion 1978

JAN HAMMER re-issues & compilations

JAN HAMMER The Early Years album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Early Years
Fusion 1986
JAN HAMMER Snapshots 1.2 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Snapshots 1.2
Fusion 2000
JAN HAMMER The Complete Collection album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Complete Collection
Jazz Related Soundtracks 2002
JAN HAMMER The Best of Miami Vice album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best of Miami Vice
Jazz Related Soundtracks 2006

JAN HAMMER singles (0)

JAN HAMMER movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)


JAN HAMMER Jan Hammer Group : Oh, Yeah?

Album · 1976 · Fusion
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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.

JAN HAMMER Black Sheep

Album · 1979 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Prague-born keyboardist Jan Hammer left his home country after the Russian tanks invaded in 1968. In the States he made a successful career as a pianist for Sara Vaughn and others, then as a member of Mahavishnu Orchestra and later - as the author of soundtracks for the "Miami Vice" series.

His solo projects/recordings are barely known and not very popular (only the "Miami Vice" soundtrack is a different story). "Black Ship" is the first Hammer solo album where he plays not only keyboards, but also drums and percussion as well. Although the album has a sticker that claims, "No Guitars Used", there are also no guest vocalists, the only supporting musicians are Fernando Saunders on bass and drummer Tony Smith on some songs.

"Black Sheep" is a truly bombastic keyboards album - full of digital synthesizers, electronic drums, mostly terrible vocals and simplified music in the fashion of the 80s. Almost no fusion moments could be found here, the music is loud and a straight-ahead mix of AOR aesthetics and electro-pop with some pretentious and tasteless keys soloing (heavily imitating solo guitar passages). Obviously another former member of Mahavishnu Orchestra, John McLaughlin's solo success was a strong motivation for Jan Hammer when he recorded this album. Unfortunately, Hammer's version is far from successful. Even among Hammer's very inconsistent discography, this album is a real low point.

Should be avoided at any price.

JAN HAMMER Escape From Television

Album · 1987 · Jazz Related Improv/Composition
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There are a lot of things working against this album before it even gets out of the gate; the music on here was made in the 80s, a lot of 80s sounding early digital keyboards were used in it's making and the songs on this album were created to serve as background music for some cheezy 80s TV shows. The big suprise is that this album sounds pretty good, especially if you take it for what it is; background music. This isn't a true soundtrack album, instead what we have on here are twelve seperate semi-pop instumental songs that contain great original sounding, and often melancholy, melodies wrapped up in excellent innovative arrangements. Usually 80s keyboards are annoying, but occaisonally they seem to fit 80s music better than classic 70s analog keyboards would. For instance, artists such as Prince and Devo were often able to enhance their music through cheezy 80s sounds in ways that more classic sounds would not have been able to. It is all part of a weird principal in which if something that is usually bad actually works, than it works better than something that is usually good.

Not all of the songs on here are pop oriented, some get into world music territory and others sound like prog-rock lite, sometimes even sounding like an easy listening version of Hammer's old Mahavishnu Orchestra. This album isn't for everyone, but Hammer makes this odd mix of 80s art-pop, easy listening, world beat and progressive rock/fusion work because he took the time to write strong melodies supported by masterful arrangements.

JAN HAMMER Black Sheep

Album · 1979 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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I'm almost wondering why I inflicted this remaster on myself other than to fill out the spot being vacated by Jan Hammer's "The Early Years", a compilation CD.

My first encounter with Jan's band he called Hammer was an LP called BLACK SHEEP an LP. fortunately it was available used for $2.00. I remember the first time I put my needle down on track 1, "Jet Stream", and wondering "what the hell is this crap?". I had previously acquired a new MELODIES LP and was disappointed somewhat, it did have a couple great tracks and bits in the rest I could sink my teeth in to. I'd really hoped he would have returned with better form and have an album opener like "Magical Dog" on OH YEAH?. At the time there wasn't much on this album that appealed to me. I've lightened up in my opinion on the album after re- listening these songs. Aww, heck, I'll do the song by song review, since I may be the only one:

"Jet Stream", purporting to be a rock 'n' roll song, has lyrics about opening your ear to new music, probably directed at his fans of Jazz/Rock and Symphonic Prog material.

Next comes "Heavy Love", just your average blues track. Not as annoying for me as it used to be. His Jan Hammer Group collaborators - Fernando Saunders (Bass) and Tony Smith (Drums) are on these first two tracks and only one other.

"Black Sheep" is fairly simple song. I came to like it a bit more when I copied a few of the tracks from the LP to a home made CD a few years ago. Nice bass line. Jan does some congos and also drums for most of the rest of these tracks. Unfortunately, David Earle Johnson (percussionist) is nowhere to be seen on this album. Jan did do a duo album with him that was released the same the year, TIME IS FREE (LP on the Vanguard label, currently [11/27/06] available in the US as an import), a much better album for the prog fans.

I still like "Light of Dawn" as much today as when I first heard it. It's a simple keyboard and vocal love song. Jan did the lyrics and he did a good job.

"Hey Girl" is a studio-generated piece with Jan only doing keyboards, drums, and vocals. Another dull attempt for Jan to do something pop. Probably only notable thing about this is that he apparently does a pretty good bassist imitation in addition to his trademark synthesizer mock guitar. No bassist or bass credit is given for this track.

"Waiting No More" sounds like a decent pop song. Too bad it didn't make to the charts. I don't think anything else charted until the Miami Vice soundtrack. Jan on everything except lyrics again.

Next up comes a cover of Jimi Hendrix' "Manic Depression". Might have been a fun live cover, but here he appears to be just showing off his mock guitar capabilities. I might be too harsh, he may have been intending more of a tribute piece. Still, one of the more progressive pieces here.

The last track "Silent One" is a 5 star piece by virtue of 4.5, which rounds to 5. Lyrics are by his wife, Ivona Reich. It starts out as a simple keyboard and vocal piece. Jan does all instruments and Bob Christensen (also on a few other tracks here) provides vocals. It's a love/love lost song. The second half of the song has a nice build up in musical intensity. The whole song structure is a lot like the last track on LIKE CHILDREN "Giving In Gently/I Wonder.

JAN HAMMER Jan Hammer Group : Oh, Yeah?

Album · 1976 · Fusion
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I got this as an LP originally at a local Atlanta used record store for $2.00 along with Jerry Goodman & Jan Hammer Like Children more than a few years ago (those were the days). They made excellent companions which I taped on opposite sides of a 90 minute cassette. These albums were apparently fairly rare as I don't think I have ever seen any other copies for sale used or new. I even went to the trouble of making a CD from the LPs complete with little booklets from scans of the cover art.

I haven't seen any information on why it took so long for these to be remastered and released on CD. They are some of Jan's finest work post Mahavishnu. I think it's a testament to the quality of the original production that the remaster doesn't seem to improve much on the sound compared to CD version I made. Always a pleasure to be free of the LP needle noise of course, although my copies were in really good shape.

Back to this album, the instrumental songs are very high energy. Some progressive purists may be put off by the three vocal pieces. Oh Yeah?, in particular, has a heavy funk edge to it, but for me they just broadened my musical horizons a little. Those who have a problem with the vocal bits, will find the instrumentals very satisfying.

JAN HAMMER Movies Reviews

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