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October 2003

Jan Hammer
The First Seven Days
Columbia/Legacy

Keyboardist Jan Hammer recorded an album in 1975 called The First Seven Days (Columbia/Legacy). Like Duke Ellington's sacred concerts and John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, it was musician as preacher or philosopher. The First Seven Days has been lying dormant in Columbia's vaults for almost 30 years waiting to be reissued in whole (some parts have been released on other Hammer albums).

Hammer, most famous for his soundtrack to the television show Miami Vice, doesn't exactly write spiritual compositions … la Trane and Duke. Hammer even admits in the liner notes that for him the first seven days are "scientific" and "biblical" and that the two "do meet in certain points." With Hammer, duality is inherent: His music is dominated by his mastery of piano and keyboards that became in vogue during the rise of fusion (electric piano, Moog synthesizer, etc.). It makes it hard to label his music just spiritual. However, by the "Fourth Day-Plants and Trees," Hammer is in gear with his version of God's handiwork. This is the Old Testament fusion. It only sets up the best portion of the album-"The Animals," "Sixth Day-The People" and "The Seventh Day"-where he returns to mostly familiar sounds, linear music patterns and highly emotional content. Violinist Steve Kindler and percussionist David Earle Johnson join Hammer as the action on Earth gets real-and aesthetically gorgeous. Kindler's violin interspersed with Hammer's piano work on "Sixth Day" is perfect for the communication of these moods. Hammer is not overbearing either. Like "The Creation" itself, The First Seven Days is essential stuff.

Originally published in October 2003
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