Friday, February 24, 2012
Ross Hammond Quartet - Adored (Prescott Recordings, 2012)****
By Paul Acquaro
Hammond makes a grand entrance on the anthemic 'Adored'. The title track kicks off with some sound effects but quickly segues into a Neil Young inspired mash of chords from his slightly overdriven guitar. But, it's when Vinny Golia comes in with a keening line from his sax that things ratchet up a notch. Alex Cline's percussion propels the sweeping statements and Steuart Liebig's electric bass pulsates. Tensions mount as the group's improvisation builds.
The next song 'Sesquipedalian' takes off with a rockish introduction and beat followed by a rather catchy bass groove. Golia takes the first edgy solo, followed by Hammond who seems to be favoring texture over technical. His playing skirts the edges of both jazz and rock, never falling squarely into either camp. Other songs follow suit, different approaches and feels, but overall, the playing is free, fresh and seemingly open to all types of music, whether its a noisy jam that never truly loses its sense of melody like on the title tune, the folksy whimsy on 'She's My Little Girl' or the spacious soundscape of 'Just Knowing You're There'.
This Californian quartet comes as a surprise to me. Hammond's fellow travelers are of course big names in avant-garde circles and their recorded output speaks volumes for itself, however Hammond's voice on guitar is a new and welcome one to me. The atmosphere of the recording is a hopeful one, there is a vibrancy that permeates the album, even in the throes of a noisy free improv. The group works with big swatches of sound that showcase a cohesive sound and interactive playing. 'Adored' feels honest and authentic, and it's is a pleasure to listen to. Go ahead - give it a try.