Jan Hammer

Jan Hammer (born April 17, 1948) is a Czech keyboardist, composer, and producer with a musical career that has spanned more than half a century. One of his earliest recorded performances is an un-credited appearance on a 1964 single by his mother, vocalist Vlasta Průchová. He debuted as a bandleader with the album Malma Maliny, recorded in Munich with bassist George Mraz and released in 1968 on MPS Records.

In 1971, the now-U.S.-based Hammer contributed percussion to one track on the singular album by Coppola/Coppola jazz-pop combo Air. That same year, he rose to global prominence as one-fifth of the international jazz-rock supergroup Mahavishnu Orchestra. He played with the band on two studio albums — The Inner Mounting Flame (1971) and Birds of Fire (1973) — and one live release before departing with violinist Jerry Goodman. The pair recorded one album, Like Children, in 1974 for Nemperor Records before parting ways.

In 1975, Hammer received co-billing on John Abercrombie‘s ECM release Timeless. The keyboardist also resumed band leadership on the jazz-rock/funk album The First Seven Days, released that year on Nemperor. Two further albums in a similar vein followed on the label, including the popular 1976 release Oh Yeah? Concurrently, Hammer played a prominent role on Jeff Beck’s 1976/77 albums Wired and Live. Other notable credits from this period include keyboard work on albums by Billy Cobham, Charlie Mariano, Harvey Mason, Jeremy Steig, Stanley Clarke and Steve Grossman.

In 1979, Hammer fronted his own namesake rock/disco band for two albums on Asylum Records. Two years later, he teamed with Journey guitarist Neal Schon for a pair of jazz-rock albums. In 1985, Hammer composed and performed the era-defining theme for the American crime/action series Miami Vice.

Discography:

  • Maliny Maliny (1968 • The Jan Hammer Trio)
  • Like Children (1974 • Jerry Goodman & Jan Hammer)
  • The First Seven Days (1975)
  • Oh, Yeah? (1976 • Jan Hammer Group)
  • Melodies (1977 • Jan Hammer Group)
  • Hip Address (1980 • David Earle Johnson With Jan Hammer)
  • Finger Dancing (1981 • Yoshiaki Masuo with Jan Hammer)
  • Untold Passion (1981 • Neal Schon & Jan Hammer)
  • Here to Stay (1983 • Schon & Hammer)
  • Escape From Television (1987)
  • Snapshots (1989)
  • Beyond the Mind’s Eye (1992)

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