ROSS HAMMOND
Ambience, Antiquite and Other Love Songs
(Prescott Recordings)

 

Few gutiarists can entertain with just a solo electric guitar. There are various New Age disciples, then of course there's jazz purists, avant garde players and then there’s Ross Hammond, who returns with sonic vengeance on his 2011 CD release of Ambience, Antiquite And Other Love Songs. Sonic instrumental guitar extrapolations that owes more to Daniel Lanois than say David Gilmour or Hendrix per se, Ross Hammond's superbly recorded and expertly mastered CD hangs together with a unique kind of free falling fretboard tenacity. Acknowledging the efficacy of a variety of music pioneered back in the ‘70s by prog guitarists—from Howe to Hackett and Gilmour, from Frith to Fripp to Rother—it’s all in play in Ross Hammond’s spatial guitar universe. That Rother opposed to Fripp side of Hammond’s guitar style is quite entertaining—especially on the first half of the CD, featuring a spatial jangle of abstract and reverbed instrumental guitar—but as the CD progresses it gets heavily involved in the more Fripp-ian side of the musical coin and so it goes. With the CD release of Ambience, Antiquite And Other Love Songs, the two or more sides of Ross Hammond reveals the inner mechanisms of a veritable guitar universe. www.RossHammond.com


mwe3.com presents an interview with
ROSS HAMMOND


mwe3: The new album makes quite a unique musical statement. What were your musical parameters and guideposts when you wrote and recorded the new Ambience, Antiquite And Other Love Songs CD?

RH: This is the first record I've done that was entirely solo. The title refers to the three different thematic ideas in the recording. The "Ambience" in the title refers to the shorter ambient pieces interspersed in the record. They are generally shorter tape loops, electronic pieces or guitar improvisations that I had recorded in the past few years. The "Antiquité" in the title refers to the songs that were recorded live at a concert at Antiquité Maison Privée in Sacramento. Those pieces are longer themes that were written for solo electric guitar.

Finally, the remainder of the pieces on the record are other live songs written for my wife and daughter. There are two solo acoustic songs on there, one of which is a cover of Gil Scot-Heron's "Your Daddy Loves You," which is something I sing to my daughter at home. I feel like all of these come together in a cohesive statement...

mwe3: Can you say something about where you grew up and your first exposure to music and to the guitar?

RH: I'm originally from Lexington, Kentucky and grew up wanting to be a baseball player. However, I got a guitar at 12 years old and started lessons. I was terrible for the first few years, but I was getting very interested in music after I joined a band when I was in high school. I was very interested in blues, soul and rock.

In college, I studied with a great jazz guitarist in Sacramento named Jim Beeler. He got me interested in Wes Montgomery, Grant Green and Kenny Burrell. From there I was hooked on jazz, particularly free jazz and the early electric sounds of Miles, Weather Report and Herbie Hancock.. I started collecting records from the Impulse, ESP and Black Lion labels from the 60s and 70s. Artistically, it became apparent to me that John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders were saying the same thing as Chuck D and Jello Biafra and Bob Dylan, just with different sounds. After that exposure I started focusing on improvising projects. I tried to, and continue to, play with as many different improvisers and musicians as I can. I have learned way more by actually playing with different musicians than I ever did studying theory in a classroom.

mwe3: Who were the guitarists that helped shape your musical intellect and set you off on your own course?

RH: In no particular order: Reverend Gary Davis, Ali Farka Toure, Grant Green, Sonny Sharrock, Bill Frisell, King Sunny Ade, Nels Cline, Jeff Parker, Santana, Albert King, Albert Collins, Lonnie Mack, Doc Watson, Thurston Moore, Melvin Taylor, Bern Nix, Jim McAuley, GE Stinson, Robert Fripp, Wes Montgomery, etc... There are so many out there. And of course there are some active improvisers now too like Ava Mendoza, Noah Phillips, Tom McNalley, Marissa Anderson and a host of others who I like listening to.

mwe3: What guitars are you playing on the new Ambience, Antiquite And Other Love Songs CD? What are some of your other guitars and can you say something about the way you recorded your new album?

RH: On that record I used a blonde G&L ASAT with a Bigsby for all of the electric stuff. That is probably my main guitar, although I just picked up a red Danelectro U2 reissue that is badass! For the acoustic songs I used an old Fischer archtop from the early 30s. It's a beautiful guitar that gets a great acoustic sound. I recently had a pickup made for it by a great luthier in Winters, CA named Keith Cary. It has a very cool electric sound too. For my most recent acoustic work I have since bought a 1961 Martin OO18 that I really like. I'm going to give it to my daughter when she gets a lot older (she's a year and a half), but for now I'm playing it quite a bit.

As far as amps go, I pretty much use the ZT Lunchbox for everything. It's amazing amp that can travel anywhere and packs a huge amount of power in its' little frame. If the gig is in a place hats too large for it I run it through a cabinet with a single 12" Celestion. That's all the amp I need.

This recorded was tracked with my TEAC 4 track reel to reel, and then edited by Bryce Gonzales in Sacramento. I love the raw sound of the 4 track, and would definitely get another if I needed to. I generally record about 95% of my songs through that, as I don't really like to use computers to record. There's obviously nothing wrong with them, it's just a preference.

mwe3: What are the future plans for exposing Ambience, Antiquite And Other Love Songs and how about other plans regarding future projects, tours and writing new music?

RH: Ambience, Antiquite and Other Love Songs has been out for almost a year now. It has gotten a decent amount of buzz, and I'm pretty happy about that. I just recorded a quartet record called Adore with L.A. improv monsters Vinny Golia, Alex Cline and Steuart Liebig. That record is being released at the end of February on Prescott Recordings.

As for other music projects, I'm always trying to collaborate with different players and artists. I'll hopefully be making a lot of music with Electropoetic Coffee, a band with poet NSAA and drummer Tom Monson, and with Lovely Builders, with drummer Scott Amendola. I terms of playing live, I'll still be busy in Sacramento this year in between trips to New York, Seattle, the Bay Area and Southern CA.

For upcoming releases and gigs you can check out www.rosshammond.com for information.

 

 
   
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