Tardo Hammer: Tardo's Tempo

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Tardo Hammer
Tardo’s Tempo
Sharp Nine

In tandem with bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Jimmy Wormworth, Tardo Hammer carves out his own space in the bebop tradition—once again, proving that accomplished musicians still have a lot to say while mining established styles. The pianist doesn’t mess with the bebop blueprint; rather, he excels at executing its fundamental elements. The material on “Tardo’s Tempo” is a carefully selected mixture of selections from the American Popular Songbook, a few jazz standards, a Monk tune, plus one original. Neither franticly busy nor gratuitously virtuosic, most of the tracks move along at a pace that invites the listener to pick-up on telling details and appreciate the trio’s interaction.

The opening track, Hammerstein and Kern’s “Last Time I Saw Paris,” typifies their approach to the music and sets a very high standard for the rest of the record. Juggling a number of ideas while maintaining a coherent narrative thread, Hammer begins with an out-of-tempo solo that states the melody in an oblique fashion, rapidly changing from a stately to a lighthearted disposition, adding a nice stride feel during some of the bridge, and integrating the occasional, Monk-like dissonance.

The labyrinth-like opening sequence immediately evaporates as the bass and drums lay down a steady medium tempo bounce. This time Hammer’s take on the melody is sunny and optimistic, as he rides Wormworth’s strokes to the hi-hat and top cymbal. Encouraged by Irwin’s sturdy walking, the two-chorus solo that follows has a lot going on, yet its logical development is never marred by too much activity. For instance, while it comes as a surprise when a quote from “Thelonious” (which is the also the last track on the record) is followed by a smattering of fast, single note lines, Hammer soon returns to something more grounded that stays closer to the pulse.

Hammer’s interpretation of “Little Man (You’ve Had A Busy Day),” one of two ballads on the recording, is a fine example of a jazz musician turning a maudlin pop song into something memorable. He plays it three times, at first solo, and then twice with the bass and drums. Smartly juxtaposing improvised passages and snatches of the tune, each time Hammer takes more liberties without completely bending the melody out of shape or removing the sentiment, all the while evincing a decisive rhythmic drive.

Both cleaving to and providing counterpoint to the leader’s piano, the snap of Wormworth’s snare and melodic ring of his tom-toms animates the head of Tommy Flanagan’s “Minor Mishap.” As always, Hammer’s reliance on Irwin and Wormworth’s firm, expressive support—rather than just heedlessly playing over them—is an important element of his three-chorus solo. He swings purposefully and doesn’t feel the need to fill up all available space, taking the time to develop ideas, and frequently pausing in order to let a phrase sink in. There’s no dramatic arc to the course of the solo—instead, Hammer and company offer something more important; namely, a resolute momentum, simultaneously disciplined and flexible, which feels so good that you wouldn’t mind if they continued without end.

Tracks: 1. Last Time I Saw Paris; 2. I Waited For You; 3. Russian Lullaby; 4. Philly Twist; 5. Journey To Liechtenstein; 6. Minor Mishap; 7. Very Early; 8. Little Man (You’ve Had A Busy Day); 9. Thelonious.

Personnel: Tardo Hammer—piano; Dennis Irwin—bass; Jimmy Wormworth—drums.

Visit Sharp Nine Records on the web at www.sharpnine.com


More Articles

Read Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial Extended Analysis Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Procol Harum: Novum Extended Analysis Procol Harum: Novum
by Doug Collette
Published: April 22, 2017
Read Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! Extended Analysis Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!
by John Kelman
Published: April 17, 2017
Read Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 Extended Analysis Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 9, 2017
Read Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band Extended Analysis Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 3, 2017
Read The Doors' 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Extended Analysis The Doors' 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Holger Czukay: Movie!" Extended Analysis Holger Czukay: Movie!
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: May 14, 2016
Read "Buddy Guy: Can't Quit The Blues" Extended Analysis Buddy Guy: Can't Quit The Blues
by Doug Collette
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Tender Heart: Songs Of Tom Giacabetti And Melissa Gilstrap" Extended Analysis Tender Heart: Songs Of Tom Giacabetti And Melissa Gilstrap
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: September 27, 2016
Read "Steve Reich: The ECM Recordings" Extended Analysis Steve Reich: The ECM Recordings
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Ian Hunter: Fingers Crossed" Extended Analysis Ian Hunter: Fingers Crossed
by Doug Collette
Published: October 30, 2016
Read "King Crimson: Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind)" Extended Analysis King Crimson: Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold of Monkey...
by John Kelman
Published: September 10, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus


Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!