Album Review: Jan Hammer – Seasons Pt. 2

Listeners of a certain age know Jan Hammer for his work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jeff Beck; younger ones will recall his “Miami Vice Theme.” In recent years his music has often leaned toward new age. But his latest release, Seasons Pt. 2 synthesizes (so to speak) all of his disparate stylistic excursions. It’s an instrumental set full of classic-sounding keyboard textures, but it has teeth. His strong melodic sense and facile ability to combine a vast array of sounds is well showcased here.

The peerless drumming of Simon Phillips provides some of the rock-solid bottom end on these tracks, and Hammer – who plays everything else you’ll hear on the set – masterfully evokes the sound and feel of basses, guitar and whatnot-else through deft use of his keyboard arsenal. (Though I’m pretty sure he’s playing some real stringed instruments here as well.)

A wonderfully evocative set, the album has something of a theme, but as with much of the best instrumental music, the listener’s imagination can take flight in whatever direction it chooses. The music is varied, exploring a wide variety of tonal qualities and emotional directions. It’s thrilling, peaceful, contemplative and propulsive, though obviously not all at once.