Ross Hammond’s A-List Jam
Ross Hammond — Adored (Prescott Recordings, 2012)
Adored shows off an exciting combination of ideas, with psychedelic rock jamming executed by one heck of a free-jazz backing band from L.A.: Vinny Golia (sax), Alex Cline (drums), and Steuart Liebig (bass).
It’s also got a nice link to the In the Flow Festival, which I’d mentioned previously. Guitarist Ross Hammond, organizer of the festival, lives in Sacramento and is responsible for Nebraska Mondays, the weekly creative-music series at Luna’s Cafe. Those activities gather musicians from the whole pan-California jazz/improv world.
On Adored, Hammond is working with some of the all-stars of the Southern California scene, producing some exciting results. Everyone here has done his share of mixing rock and jazz ideas, particularly Liebig, whose band The Mentones mixes barroom rock with prog/jazz virtuosity. (You’ll find them on the pfMentum record label.)
“Sesquipedalian” is a cosmically unfolding jam, with the guitar and sax spiraling outwards from the get-go. An improv cool-down middle stays just as active, with Golia bleating away and Liebig adding some ninja-quick electric bass riffs. Golia and Hammond similarly jam on “Maribel’s Code,” a calmer outing but not at all sedate. Over a steady foundation of drums and bass, the sax and guitar each take a turn at scribbly, intense soloing.
Maybe I’m taking the psych comparison too far, but there’s a bit of Santana in the guitar sound — the sublime, bluesy “She’s My Little Girl” being a prime example. The best moments, though, are when the band takes the idea of a psych jam and uses their talents and knowledge to stretch it further. Most of “Hands Up” is a choppy and grumbly group improvisation, with lots of different directions knitted together — and then, out of the blue, there’ll be a bashing rhythm from Cline for a moment of rocking-out bliss.
“Water Always Finds Its Way, Like the Soul” ends the album with a glorious comedown, full of lovely major-key tonalities (Wayne Peet helps out on piano) but just as much fever as some of the prior tracks.
It’s good stuff. Have a listen over at Bandcamp.