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January/February 2000

Tardo Hammer
Hammer Time
Sharp Nine

Most musicians would probably think that it's a bad idea to give their debut a phrase that was once affiliate with a now washed-up rap artist. But if you can get pass the title, Hammer Time will introduce you to Tardo Hammer, a fine pianist who has accumulated over two decades of bebop experience from working with legends like Art Farmer, Johnny Griffin, and Charlie Rouse.
The aggressive sounding title throws another sucker punch because Hammer is a man of sumptuous elegance. On classics like Monk's "Reflections" and Bud Powell's "Celia," Hammer's cascading notes and feather-light touch sparkle like stars in the wide Canadian sky. Bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Leroy Williams propel Hammer with tremendous grace and shimmering swing, especially on the pianist mid-tempo romp, "Ski Ball" and the classy "Plan B". Although no new ground is covered, and the music may sound a little too modest for thrill-seekers, Hammer Time is nevertheless a pleasant listen.

Originally published in January/February 2000
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