Jan Hammer – “Ocean Drive”

Jan Hammer, “Ocean Drive,” from Seasons Pt. 1 (Red Gate Records)

Seasons Pt. 1 is keyboardist Jan Hammer’s first new album in nearly a decade. Inspired by his life-long experiences in music, it features 13 examples of Hammer’s artistry, including what he calls “the elephant in the room” — his four seasons scoring for the hit television show Miami Vice.

Case in point: the song “Ocean Drive,” which spares no detail in calling to mind the breezy, neon-tinted atmosphere of South Beach in the 1980s. With its tropical groove, synthesized winds and propulsive guitar riff, the song is a high-spirited throwback to the Golden Age of world-jazz fusion. But there’s more to the track than just nostalgia. Hammer, a masterful colorist on the synthesizer, brings a wealth of contemporary knowledge to his expert improvisations and harmonic voicings. This is beach-cruising music with attitude and intellect.

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