by Ross Hammond

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"The music hums with soul and purpose....Perfect for Sunday mornings or just about any day of the week."
-Aaron Stein, Jambase.com

"Gorgeous original compositions...are as emotionally resonant as they are magnificently played. Acoustic guitar lovers will revel in Hammond's sound and artistry."
-Bob Weinberg, Jazziz Magazine

"I'm counting down the top 100 albums of 2015. #91 is Flight from guitarist Ross Hammond."
-Ted Gioia, Stanford Jazz

"Ross Hammond quickly peels off the layers to expose the soul of his music until there’s nothing left but an acoustic guitar for his latest release Flight…"
-S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews

"Free jazz guitarist's solo acoustic effort makes for stimulating listening…"
-Kenny Berkowitz, Acoustic Guitar Magazine

"Like the rest of this intimate, unamplified and beautifully immediate performance, influences were strictly support players for a sound that was serenely Hammond’s own creation."
-Walter Tunis, musicalbox.bloginky.com

"His use of the 12-string brings the greatest rewards, and his range of original tunes provides all kinds of room for nuance and grand pronouncements both."
-Dave Sumner, birdistheworm.com

"Guitarist meant for bigger things tries his hand at folk-oriented solo pastorale...using 6-string, 12-string, and acoustic slide for a whiff of blues, originals, several trad. pieces...recorded on locations throughout California-- if not roots, at least digging in. B+"
-Tom Hull, tomhull.com

"Flight" could easily get lost in the flurry of new recordings but do give this music your attention. Ross Hammond has created a program that takes you out away from the craziness of every-day life; this is music that, ultimately and intimately, soothes the soul, an instrumental salve for your trying times. "
-Richard Kamins, steptempest.blogspot.com

"What amazes me about this disc is that Mr. Hammond sounds as if he has been playing this way for a long time, each piece is well-handled and complete, mature and thoughtfully done."
-Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter (NYC)

"His solo music is a testament to the notion that there is plentiful depth, soul, and, in all meanings of the term, “swing” in guitar playing that embraces diverse musical strategies while striking out, in definitive fashion, on its own journey."
-Mike Barella, avantmusicnews.com

"Throughout Flight there is enough ambient sound, fret squeaks and string buzz and overall sonic character to convey an honesty to this music that is inviting... full to the brim with the kind of character that embodies the best creative improvisational music."
-James Filkins, minor 7th

"A rejuvenating spiritual aesthetic…"
-Submerge Magazine, 4/2015

"Rootsy and commited – and deadly serious in its artistry…"
-Marlbank.net, 2/2015 (Flight Review)

"The stylistic freshness and breadth of vocabulary that distinguish an amalgam of influences from jazz, American folk, blues, tradition of spiritual music and world music…"
-Sergio Piccirilli, www.elintruso.com

"A sublime collection of songs…"
-Christian Williams, Utne Reader

"Hammond's guitar-playing remains as intricate as ever, but for this go-round, he channels his Kentucky roots for a record that's more Americana than jazz."
-Shawn Cooke, PIttsburgh City Paper

Ross Hammond - Acoustic Guitar, 12 String Guitar, Resonator Guitar



released April 14, 2015

Ross Hammond - Flight

The liner notes to Joe Pass’s 1973 solo guitar album Virtuoso attempt to mine profundities from a classic jazz truism: “If you can’t swing alone and unaccompanied, you can’t swing.” Over four decades after Pass’s album was recorded, such negative platitudes sound quaintly archaic. Phrases such as “you can’t play out if you can’t play in” or “if you have to ask what swing is, you’ll never know” seem culled from an older psychology, one that elevates the quickest draw and the cutting edge. The 21st century landscape for jazz and improvised music, on the other hand, is so amorphous that if often seems as if there are no real edges--the art of the improviser scatters in a multitude of directions, those paths often folding in on themselves, and the real estate governed by creative musicians is narrow and ill-defined. Under conditions that now, maybe more than ever, favor cooperation and integration among artists, you “swing alone” at your own peril.

Few musicians seem to understand this truth better than guitarist Ross Hammond. Hammond draws from both a vast lineage of individualistic folk and blues music as well as the more egalitarian traditions of collectively improvised jazz and free improvisation, arriving at a synthesis of concepts that is strikingly current. His solo music is a testament to the notion that there is plentiful depth, soul, and, in all meanings of the term, “swing” in guitar playing that embraces diverse musical strategies while striking out, in definitive fashion, on its own journey.

Flight, like much of Hammond’s music, is both disarmingly intimate and radical in nature. What distinguishes this record is how starkly pronounced these qualities are, both in terms of fidelity and repertoire. Hammond’s playing is at once personal and embedded in the zeitgeist of modern music production. It leans on the documentary nature of home recording, utilizing minimal editing and working with ambient noise--the record is a bold artifact of a moment when the worlds of professional music and dogged DIY-ness converged. This is not a traditionalist record, even as it works with tools that have entrenched themselves in the lexicon of music making.

Hammond’s album also arrives at a time after the vernacular of improvised guitar music was exploded wide open, collapsing the rubrics of jazz, free improvisation, manifold flatpicking traditions, country blues, linear electric blues-rock, and modern classical guitar, among others. Several decades after Pass’s then-radical convergence of intricate voice leading and Leo Brouwer harmonies, shaped by a jazz vernacular that somehow accepted both the harmolodic ramblings of James “Blood” Ulmer and Sonny Sharrock’s cataclysmic solo music, and encompassing a world that was gifted Fred Frith, Derek Bailey, Sandy Bull, and Bill Frisell, the schooled guitarist is a gestalt that often comprises a number of languages. On Flight, Hammond coaxes shadows of Black Woman-era Sharrock, the eerie depth of Bert Jansch, and the tireless finesse of Tommy Emmanuel, sometimes all at once.

The repertoire that has been chosen for Flight, too, is refreshingly eclectic and often surprising. Hammond has a soft spot for the pathos and grandeur of a classic spiritual, and his treatment of a number of songs, including “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen” and rarer fare like “On The Rock Where Moses Stood,” is laced with both reverence and unusual vitality. More impressive still is where Hammond can latch onto and energize a more unlikely melody, as his transformative take on Pharoah Sanders’s “The Creator Has A Master Plan” conveys. Even where the melodies are unfamiliar, such as the Nicky Skopelitis-esque “Womuts!” or the epistolary “Alecia,” the guitarist has an uncanny ability to render the most winding improvisations with the inevitability of an ancient hymn.

That is perhaps the ultimate goal of the contemporary individual artist--to communicate as deeply as possible across as wide a gamut of styles as is at his or her disposal. Hammond both recognizes this urge and refuses to underestimate either the capabilities of his music or the knowledge of his audience. Flight is indeed a swinging document, but it is also remarkably inviting, speaking to all manner of human rhythms.

-Karl Evangelista, Oakland, CA, August 2014


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Ross Hammond Sacramento

Sacramento guitarist, coffee drinker, dog owner, husband and Dad. Holla!


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