04 March 2007

Enthusiasms (7) - John Hammond

"... and I wondered how the same moon outside
over this Chinatown fair
could look down on Illinois
and find you there
and you know I love you Baby"
- Tom Waits, Shore Leave
Tonight the moon, just past full, is very bright and is casting shadows from the trees onto the snow ouside. I've been reading and getting a bit organized and listening to John Hammond. The man is pretty amazing. He's been recording for more than four decades and keeps turning out terrific albums.

Hammond's voice was made for the blues and the musicians he plays with are completely sympatico. (In that respect listening to Hammond's albums is like listening to the Robert Cray Band.) One interesting thing is that his albums are consistently produced (or co-produced) by folks who I also really quite like - a nice confluence. His latest release "Push Comes to Shove" (Back Porch) is produced by G Love. His 2003 CD "Ready for Love" (Back Porch) was produced by David Hidalgo of Los Lobos fame (liner notes by Tom Waits). And the very nearly sublime 2001 release "Wicked Grin" (Pointblank) which consists wholly of Tom Waits covers - including "Shore Leave" - was produced by the man himself (liner notes by T-Bone Burnett). In each instance the producer sits in on one or more of the tunes. Hammond is a "Jr."; his father was an extremely influential producer and promoter who rightly is credited with assaulting the color lines in the American music industry.

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