|LINER NOTES: Hymn
by Doug Ramsey
Jon Hamar matches his depth of musical knowledge and mastery of the double bass with a spirit of adventure. That combination of attributes may have made jazz an inevitable outlet for his creativity. With a penchant for musical challenge and a trio of unconventional instrumentation, in this collection he achieves the balance of thoughtfulness and risk-taking that characterizes the most successful jazz ventures.
International Society of Bassists
For his latest release, top-call Seattle bassist Jon Hamar has gone into the studio with some of the Northwest's finest jazz musicians. Pianists Dawn Clement and John Hansen pair up with drummers Byron Vannoy and Jon Wikan for an for an intriguing spectrum of jazz trio colors. Up-tempo tunes like Fly-by (Drive Fast) and Oblivion, as well as the ethereal Sandcastle Princess prove Hamar's versatility through all tempos. Dark Heavens is a unique tune on the record, showcasing the depth and beauty of Hamar's compositions, as well as the intesity of the musicns involved. John Lennon's Julia and Astor Piazzola's Todo Fue are given a new perspective. Hamar makes it clear why he is always in demand, not just for the support he provides in the rhythm section, but because of the brilliance of his improvisations and deeply personal compositions.
by Jeremy C. Baguyos, Bass World
In the opening track for solo contrabass, Theme for Francis, Jon Hamar wastes no time establishing his strikingly warm, even, and clean tone with expressive vibrato and round attacks. Compositionally, the solo work holds up on its own with inherent rhythmic propulsion and catchy melodic lines smartly interwoven into implied harmonic structures, which hint of counterpoint and homophony. The rest of the band joins Hamar on the second track, Julia, and allows him to demonstrate more of the same expressive prowess through soulful musical interplay with pianist Dawn Clement and drummer Byron Vannoy. Julia is a crafty arrangement by Dawn Clement of a composition by John Lennon, and although the original Lennon composition would be somewhat limiting, Hamar, Clement, and Vannoy are quick to depart from Lennon's starting point and explore previously unforeseen possibilities in what otherwise would devolve into lounge music if undertaken by lesser musicians. Fly-By is a carefully orchestrated up-tempo composition performed with John Hansen on piano and Jon Wikan on drums. Hamar and Wikan relentlessly lay down a fast tempo in lockstep and allow pianist John Hansen to perform with abandon. Hamar's bass lines are both supportive and inventive and clearly provide harmonic directions.
Dark Heavens and Oblivion are the most unique works on this CD, and without any prompting from the jacket insert or informational web site, are rooted in the jazz tradition and carry a message very personal to the artist. Oblivion will also showcase some of Hamar's impressive technical facility, but his agility never takes precedence over the somber context. Sandcastle Princess continues the melancholy ethos with the evocative piano styling of Dawn Clement and Hamar's lyrical and haunting arco melodies. Hamar's tone is exquisite throughout with his expressive vibrato and refined arco technique. The CD culminates with a discreet Latin groove in Piazzolla's Todo Fue and features more of Hamar's expressive and haunting arco playing, dark timbres, and evocative compositional devices. Like Lennon's Julia, Hamar moves beyond the familiar starting point of the original Piazzolla work and casts the work with a fresh perspective. His use of pizzicato double stops in the lower register during the vamps creates a thick and pulsating rhythmic sonority that leverages the inherently dark timbres of the double bass in the lower register.
The title of the CD, the images and text on the jacket, and the titles themselves evoke memories and pay tribute to people who were close to the artist. Sometimes music is the only media capable of communicating a sentiment that words and images cannot express. On Hereafter, he succeeds in that expression and connects the listener and himself to those that he pays tribute to.
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