DOWNBEAT 10/21/76

OH YEAH? Nemperor NE 437: Magical Dog,
One To One; Evolove, Oh, Yeah?; Bambu Forest
Twenty One; Let The Children Grow; Red And Orange

Personnel: Hammer, electric piano, synthesizers,
timbales, vocals;  Steven Kindler, acoustic and
electric violin, rhythm guitar, Fernando Saunders, bass
piccolo bass, vocals, Tony Smith, drums, lead vocals

* * * *
 When Jeff Beck recently toured with the Jan Hammer Group, only a handful of his expectant audience realized beforehand that the eminent guitarist was tagging along, respecting Hammer's choices in personnel and material, and for the first time since his association with Rod Stewart, sharing the stage with Jan's mutually rousing talent. What must have begun as a gamble ended as a double blessing, for Beck not only benefited immeasurably from Hammer's exhortations, but also helped Jan to reach a wider audience than would have been possible on his own. And Hammer is an artist whose time has surely come, one of the foremost, fertile minds in the mutable fusion field.

Oh, Yeah?, Hammer's third effort for Nemperor and his first with a group, is his most mature and compelling statement to date, ceaselessly propulsive and uncommonly colorful. The pliant rhythm section proves to be the ideal instrument for Hammer's unflagging energy and diversity, and in violinist Stephen Kindler, Jan has found a compatible, adroit foil, sparking the joyful spontaneity missing from his post-Mahavishnu Orchestra recorded work Indeed, with Oh, Yeah? Hammer comes closer to capturing the verve of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra than any of his former colleagues recent product, which underscores how indispensable he was to their collective, innovative sound.

From the alternating bombastic and serene imagery of  “Magical Dog” to the arcane, sinewy introduction to “Bambu Forest” Hammer  effectively  manages  to vary the  fabric of  the arrangements and  texture of  the instrumental  voicings, often  in  the  minute span of a wink.  He never  crowds nor  obscures  the sound, even when double-tracking violins over a compound of corpulent keyboards.  With the sole exception of the perfunctory  vocal  tracks  (“One To One”  and  “Let The Children Grow”), Oh,Yeah?    Is  a   resounding confirmation  of Hammer's  enduring  relevancy.  And  yet,  as  good  as it gets,  it is a cautious sketchbook compared to the band's live show. If Nemperor and/or  Epic  fail  to  release a  live  Beck/Hammer album, it will be one of the years more serious omissions.      - gilmore

                                                                                                               September/October 1976
           Volume 2
Number 5
The Magazine For All Keyboard Players


The most distinguishing feature of Jan Hammer’s lead synthesizer and electric piano work on this LP may the way he uses melodic contours as rhythmic entities.  The combination of sixteenth-note syncopations in the lead instruments with the irregular background pulses (4-3-3-4, for example) lends the tunes an unpredictable air which heightens the urgency of the persistently driving percussion.  Hammer’s synthesizer work is notable for the expressivity with which he bends notes and introduces vibrato to the tone, and the pervasive use of electric piano riffs and chording leads one to believe that most of the music was written on this instrument. 
For some first rate jazz-rock, nail yourself a hammer. 

 Nemperor (dist. By Atlantic), NE 43