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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ross Hammond and Sameer Gupta - Upward (Prescott, 2016) ***½

By Paul Acquaro

Last year's Flight found guitarist Ross Hammond in a contemplative mood - documenting his solo guitar works. This year, he has teamed up with tabla player Sameer Gupta to expand that vision with an ear towards the more rhythmically complex.

The duo has a sound that perhaps recalls a bit of Ralph Towner circa Solo/Trios (ECM, 1973) and maybe a bit of Steve Tibbets' acoustic work on Big Map Idea (ECM, 1994). However, those are just mere associations, as Hammond's approach is uniquely his own blend of roots and influences. While Upward is wholly original, it is also somehow familiar, there is something deeply satisfying about the rich acoustic sounds of the acoustic 12-string's open tuning and slide work ringing out along side the clear precise tones of the tabla.

The album is a mix of worlds - a mélange of Americana and excellent neo-traditional sounding percussion work. The tracks pour forth like a crystal clear brook passing swiftly over rocks rounded over by time's eternal flow.