Composer/bassist Jon Hamar gives an elegiac, thought-provoking look at life now and evermore with his second release, Hereafter. Using two sets of piano/drum accompanists, Hamar seems to be taking us on a trip through his life.
He starts his journey with "Theme for Francis," a beautifully realized bass solo which he dedicates to his paternal grandmother. It’s extremely touching to hear the depth of art that true love can wring from the heart. Following this is one of the loveliest covers of John Lennon’s tribute to his mother, "Julia," that this critic has ever heard.
Despite the use of two different piano/drum sets, there is no doubt as to who’s in charge of this date. Hamar’s bass, whether soloing or accompanying, is out front directing the action. And there is action aplenty on "Fly-By (Drive Fast)," the next cut. Pianist John Hansen pulls focus for his solo, full of quick turns of phrase and interval leaps. Drummer Jon Wikan challenges Hamar and Hansen with his Gadd-like soloing.
The next few compositions show a slight debt to Keith Jarrett’s style, especially "Dark Heavens," which uses the other piano/drum team, pianist Dawn Clement and drummer Byron Vannoy, along with the odd timbre of flute, soprano and tenor sax (Hans Teuber) and pedal steel guitar (Dan Tyack).
Until the penultimate cut on the album, Hamar plays delicately and dreamily. The composition that changes that pattern is a hard-boppish "Haystack," almost sounding of late Bud Powell. (It’s true. Hansen’s that good of a pianist).
Hereafter closes with a tune by one of the 20th century’s greatest composers, Astor Piazzolla. "Todo Fue" is taken at a jazz tango clip, with the Clement/Vannoy team showing they’re no slouch. They play well and they listen, which too many musicians don’t do.
If Hereafter is as good as Hamar imagines it, maybe we shouldn’t fear it so much. Just a thought. Sleep tight.