Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

Haiku

Doug Hammer

2015

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In 2013, I fell in love with the title track of Doug Hammer's 'Heart' album. Now, two years on, he has released his ninth CD to date, and it is a beauty!

 

'Haiku' is an album for relaxation and to chill to. The music contained within is not overly complex; it is pure, rejuvenating and thoughtful. When I listen to it, I am reminded of the crystal-clear waters surrounding the Scottish island of Iona. Perhaps that's the influence of the back cover! As the title would suggest, the music is poetic in form- often short and with no clutter- no note is wasted here.

 

Opening with 'Possibility', the album is remarkably consistent in maintaining such a high standard throughout. The piece is short (like many of the tracks on the album) and very melodic, getting the CD off to the perfect start.

 

'Flight' has a very gentle opening, gradually building in momentum as the piece takes hold. As I listen, I visualise a solitary bird at the start of the piece gracefully taking to flight, and is later joined by others as the flock soars majestically through the brilliant ocean-blue sky.

 

'Wind' reminds me of the style of the renowned Bernward Koch on his 'Montagnola' album. This is not stormy wind; rather, it is refreshing and welcoming, as the flurry of notes emanating from Doug's piano swirl like the summer coastal breeze.

 

The fourth track, 'Glorious', every bit lives up to its name. It features a gorgeous melody. I find myself listening to this track over and over again. It is extremely relaxing- music to set the mind wandering!

 

'Dancing' is a playful number, and will give any pianists listening itchy fingers. Catchy, appealing, happy and fun, all rolled into one. It is another terrific track in an album packed full of highlights.

 

The album's sixth track is entitled 'Hope', and is more reflective. A gentle tempo is maintained throughout, and it is another wonderful composition. This would make the perfect background music to a film, and at times is rousing and uplifting.

 

No prizes for guessing the style of 'Sway'! It's a great little number, and is sure to have the listener tapping their toes, fingers and anything else to hand. If the listener has half as much fun with this track as Doug undoubtedly had playing it, then the piece has done its job. Another highly appealing, catchy composition. Let yourself go listening to this piece!

 

Another favourite is the title track, 'Haiku'. As I listen, I am reminded of gentle drops of pure rain, gradually building in their intensity. Around 2:45, everything comes together, and the track takes a more traditional but highly melodic turn. Things slow right back down again towards the end as the rain eases, and the final note signifies the last drop, heralding the onset of the morning sun.

 

'Golden' has a warm, appealing melody. The style of the great Wayne Gratz comes to mind as I listen to this one. It seems almost redundant to say that this is another memorable and entertaining piece, as it is the case that this applies for each of the fifteen tracks!

 

'New' has a soft, lullaby-like opening. Again, I am reminded of nature, and this time of a slowly unfurling flower with its dew-covered petals gently fluttering in the fresh morning air. Around 2:30, the flower is basking in the warm sunlight in all its glory; its petals dancing in the inviting breeze.

 

'Heartstring' is a clever title for track eleven, with the beautiful addition of Velleda Miragias's warm cello accompanying Doug's exquisite piano playing. The cello adds melancholy to the piece, and tugs at the listener's emotions. It is a beautiful composition and sure to be a favourite of many. 

 

'Lost' is another thoughtful and emotional piece. Perhaps these have been troubled times when solace has had to be sought. Doug leaves it to the discerning listener to take their own personal journey here.

 

'Rise', with its higher pitch of notes especially at the start and end, is more optimistic in form. The problems from earlier are resolved, and life has moved on.

 

One might think 'Goodbye' would be the final track of the album, and indeed it would make a most fitting concluding piece with its sense of closure. The piece is lovely, and seems to tell its own little bedtime story. The tempo slows right down for this track, and would make the perfect choice for inducing sleep.

 

However, it is 'Never-ending' which ends the album, and this is more upbeat, almost heralding the start of a new day and a positive spin on the challenges that lie ahead, as well as celebrating the many warm, happy moments that await.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to 'Haiku', and Doug Hammer has excelled himself with this outstanding release. Much of the music is quite simple, but therein lies its beauty. Let 'Haiku' help de-clutter your life. Afford yourself fifty minutes to chill out, relax and savour the exquisite music contained within.

 

I give Doug Hammer's 'Haiku' my highest recommendation.

        

S.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haiku

Doug Hammer

 

 

 

"The music...  is pure, rejuvenating and thoughtful... Doug Hammer has excelled himself with this outstanding release."

 

 

 

 

Listen to the title track, 'Haiku'

 by clicking the piano above.