Sunday, May 03, 2015

Ross Hammond - Flight (Big Weezus Music, 2015)

Guitarist Ross Hammond has been a prolific presence on the West Coast improvised music scene for more than a decade, collaborating with many leading figures in progressive music. On this album he goes in a different direction, presenting a solo record for acoustic 6 string, 12 string and acoustic slide guitars. The music reminds me of two of my favorite solo guitar albums, Sonny Sharrock’s Guitar and Bill Frisell’s Ghost Town. While these albums used electric guitars and processing or looping to make their statements, Hammond’s music is bare and unadorned, his sound is equal parts jazz, folk, blues, spirituals and world music. This was a well done combination of composition and improvisation that is unique in the way that the it interprets and reflects the the music, while enhancing its meaning. A raw slide guitar version of the familiar standard “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” builds a haunting and moving expression to the music, delving deeply into raw blues, and making it into a lament for proud people who may be down but are by no means out. “Seven Years Later I Still Remember You” is fast and complicated, tuned in a fascinating way so the guitar sounds like a sitar. The music has a sense of exploration where boundaries are ignored and genres fall away into the distance. The desert blues of “The Coyotes Are Not As Far Away As You Think” develops a wide open sensibility to the music, seemingly stretching out for miles in every direction. Fans of forward leaning music should definitely check this out it, is a daring and successful undertaking. Hammond is developing a new and original conception and fans of forward leaning music will enjoy the effort. Flight -

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