Reviews by
Rhonda Dicksion



You can usually expect some- thing pretty hip and spectacular when Seattle-based Miramar releases an album (or a video, and this is no exception. If you are a fan of fusion (that hot, soulful combination of rock and jazz sounds) you will really like Drive. This is Jan Hammer's first solo, non-soundtrack album for- Miramar, but not his first collaboration with the company. Jan is the composer of the soundtrack to Beyond the Mind’s Eye, the multi-platinum, computer-animated video-album. Jan is also the composer of the “Miami Vice” theme and soundtrack which earned him two Grammys and two Emmys. In addition, his 12 solo albums have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Clearly, this is one man who knows what people like.

  It's really hard to describe Drive in a few concise sentences because there is so much diversity here. The title cut is funky and rappish, while another cut, "Island Dreamer," is a swaying, breezy, techno-trip to paradise. "Up Or Down" begins quiet and thoughtfully, almost a hymn, then progresses to become an assertive statement of confidence and cool. Though each cut is a bit different in feel and tone, we get the sense that Jan has crafted each of these cuts as carefully as a diamond cutter plans to polish a gem. The result is a CD which is bright, upbeat, and grooving. When you put Drive in, be prepared to sit down and hold on!



 For an instrumental artist, hitting the pop charts is a blessing, but it can also bring along the baggage of stereotyping and higher expectations. If the smash happens to be the biggest sensation of a given decade, it might be that much harder to break the mold. But Jan Hammer, a fusion pioneer with the groundbreaking Mahavishnu Orchestra but best known for his in-your-face guitar oriented synth assault on the "Miami Vice" theme circa 1985, adheres to his own mixed moody agenda on his first non scoring project in years, the percussive yet often sweet and very melodic Drive. From the fluffy tropical pleasures of "Island Dreamer" to the sugary breezes of "Lucky Jane, '' Hammer seems intent on showing a softer, subtle side in addition to the punchy snap his fans are used to. And just coincidentally, despite the very electronic sounding landscape he creates, he shows some frequently peppy jazz chops. While an intense, sweeping hummability and inventive plugged in percussion wall keep every song on a worthwhile path, the most remarkable aspect of the collection (his second Miramar disc, after the soundtrack to the wildly successful Beyond the Mind’s Eye video) is the way Hammer chooses various sounds using his synth arsenal. On "Don't You Know, " he takes on an electric guitar feel while "Nightglow'' gives a dead-on impression of a smoky muted trumpet. When he feels like interacting with human voices, he calls on old friends and collaborators like Jeff Beck (whose plucky, raw guitarisma blows the title cut to high heaven) and the more sensuous strains of Michael Brecker.
 -- Jonathan Widran, All Music Guide