June 20, 2024


Website about Jazz and Blues

CD review: Ross Hammond – Our Place On The Wheel 2020: Video, CD cover

Let’s make the blues great again. Like a certain political slogan from the 2016 election, the blues, like America, has always been great.

Guitarist Ross Hammond‘s blues are also analogous to the American experience, with his diverse and heterogeneous perspective. His trio recording Our Place On the Wheel reflects this variegated approach. The ‘great’ part is that Hammond’s compositions are communicated through a dream team trio. His steel guitar is matched by jazz master saxophonist Oliver Lake of World Saxophone Quartet fame and the nimble drumming of Mike Pride.
This is the blues, but one whose locus cannot be affixed to a place. The music lands in Mississippi, Appalachia, and India.

Hammond’s steel guitar performance is steeped in blues feel but also draws from sitar-like sound on “Use Them Wisely.” Why not, the blues are universal. With Pride’s demonstrative drumming and Lake’s saxophone vocalizations the music becomes a joyful blues, and that’s not an oxymoron. Hammond draws on a plaintiff sound (“Mosaic”) with Pride and Lake gathering energy as the music progresses. Lake’s articulations burn through the piece, then turn gentle with a breathy extended technique. This mixed and matched stratagem expands the conception of the blues feel. “Gratitude” interweaves an organic folk sound with the sympathetic spirituality of Lake’s alto and Pride’s percussive rumblings, bells, sticks, and cymbals. The music rekindles the spiritual jazz of the 1960s with an all-welcome global perspective.

01. Low Rent
02. Mosaic
03. Use Them Wisely
04. Time As a Gift
05. Blue and Pixelated
06. We’re Well Into the Fall
07. Our Place on the Wheel
08. Gratitude


Ross Hammond: steel guitar;

Oliver Lake: alto saxophone;

Mike Pride: percussion.

Image result for Ross Hammond - Our Place On The Wheel

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