Showing posts with label Doug Hammer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doug Hammer. Show all posts

Contemporary Instrumental Review: Doug Hammer-Swim to America, Vol. 2 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano)

Release Date: September 22, 2023

Label: Independent


Swim to America, Vol. 2 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano) is Doug Hammer's second installment of a three-part series from the original music of Stephan Eicher. I found the first volume enjoyable and anticipate feeling the same regarding this release. Vol. 3 is expected to be released next year.


"Confettis" starts the proceedings in a very bright and upbeat manner. The arrangement is fast-moving and simply a delight for the senses, setting up the listener for a complete journey through the piano's keys.


"Pas d'ami (comme toi)" begins in a more subdued way, then proceeds to pick up the pace. Doug's brilliance on the keys shines bright as he picks up the melody and delivers the bass with one hand and the lead with the other. Doug's talented fingers bring both parts of the song to your ears. I like the skill and variety of his compositions. 


"Combien de temps" is another excellent example of how solo piano can hold your attention by sounding utterly different than the previous track. There are never any similarities that I can hear. There are a few parts where Doug shows his talents with that rapid rolling of the keys, which sounds fantastic.


What continually gets my attention consistently is the flow and clarity of every track. Also, the artwork on the cover cleverly shows the artist getting caught in the rising surf. This is the metaphor related to the title. And interestingly, I find myself swimming in the music; my entire person is surrounded and consumed by the rhythm and beauty. 


As things move further into the tracks, like on "Wider Da," I heard the sentiment and sadness in the music. I can listen to a story being played inside my mind and how it's affecting my feelings. It is simpler than previous tracks, however, very purposeful, thus the space in the music to reflect. As I have often said, I found the beauty in the sadness.


"Rien n'est si bon" is a gorgeous composition based on classical (as all this music is) with a convergence of contemporary with the pace of a slow walk in the park while you breathe in the cool air as the sun sets beyond in the mountains. It is dramatic yet picturesque.


All those tracks offer a mental escape from reality and continue to the end. There is nothing wrong with taking the time to let the music remove you from your current state or mindset, if you will. The music you will hear is unique because it is simply piano and with no need for lyrics. The passion with which they are presented and played will have you going back for another listen to revisit all the emotions and mostly good feelings you can experience. 


Thirteen tracks, all stand-alone stories, are played perfectly. After covering Doug Hammer's music for so many years now, it is no surprise how much I appreciate this wonderful music and must come to expect a certain level of excellence. For my ears, this is what I needed to hear.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-NAMR Founder

September 8, 2023


01. Confettis 3:45

02. Pas d’ami (comme toi) 3:06

03. Combien de temps 3:24

04. Rivière 3:40

05. Wider Da 3:08

06. Rien n'est si bon 3:40

07. Clear My Throat 4:25

08. Je n’attendrai pas 2:16

09. Monsieur - Je ne sais pas trop 3:07

10. Rêverie 4:23

11. Où Sont Les Clés ? 4:04

12. Du 2:34

13. Wie Einem Der Gewissheit Hat 2:21

Contemporary Instrumental Review: Doug Hammer-Swim To America Vol. 1 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano)

Release Date: April 28, 2023

Label: Independent


When a musician becomes a fan of another musician's music, things can happen in extraordinary ways. In matters of life circumstances, social media, and a combination thereof, Doug Hammer became acquainted with Stephan Eicher

Swim To America Vol. 1 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano) is the first of three volumes of music Doug plans on releasing this year, covering tracks from the Eicher catalog. It is the 16th release for Doug.


Doug's interpretation of the Eicher compositions encompasses the thirteen tracks of this large-scale project for volume one. Covering one's tunes would be the easier route. However, the artistry and musical intelligence of Mr. Hammer takes the road less traveled. The level of difficulty covering someone's music your way takes tremendous patience and creativity. Taking each piece as an inspiration and springboard to jump off, the process begins with respect and love for the music you are paying tribute to.


That fact becomes evident from the first track to the last of this release. Remember that this is only the piano, nothing else supporting Doug. There are 13 tracks of purely instrumental music falling squarely into contemporary instrumental, influenced strongly by the classical and new age. Then again, classical music has been here on this earth for so long that it only makes sense that everyone is influenced by it in some manner, musically speaking in general terms.


However, because many tracks hold such beauty and a relaxing ambiance, I must give new-age music much credit as a vital underpinning, reflecting the artist's original intent. It is a show of respect and joy for the music. And it celebrates both artists at the same time.


That is a beautiful thing to witness and hear. It also creates some curiosity for listeners to seek out the background and music of the celebrated artist Stephan Eicher more in-depth. The length of the tracks is just right, not too long nor too short. Doug Hammer uses all his tools to create beautiful music from an admired composer and makes it his own. That is a more remarkable tribute than just covering the compositions. He breathes new life into the music following his intuition and heart, and it works out beautifully. One creation blossoms into another, and that is how it should work. 

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-NAMR Founder

May 12, 2023


01. Ce peu d’amour 4:00

02. Cendrillon après minuit 4:15

03. Déjeuner en paix 3:26

04. Für Immer 3:43

05. 1000 Vies 3:18

06. Je te mentirais disant 3:30

07. Manteau de gloire 4:30

08. Swim to America 3:21

09. Autour de ton cou 3:13

10. Si tu veux (Que je chante) 2:54

11. Djian's Waltz 3:20

12. Prisonnière 2:43

13. Nocturne 3:17

Contemporary Instrumental Review: Doug Hammer-Melancholia

Release Date: October 28, 2022

Label:  ‎Independent


The definition of Melancholia is severe depression characterized especially by profound sadness and despair. This is the title of Doug Hammer's latest release. Don't let that definition give you the wrong idea about what you will hear; there is more to that.


Doug has released many recordings over the years (14), and I have enjoyed my share dating back to the 2015 release Christmas Lights. I have never heard anything like this artist's 13 tracks on Melancholia.


The title is very descriptive, and the cover depiction is interesting. Looking at the lilies bursting out, the two wilted against the backdrop of a clock indicates the message transmitted. Does this suggest that your happiness can fade like a flower without water (as a matter of reference) over time? Or are we subject to reacting to the events that surround us daily, which include our personal lives and the influx of communications from various electronic means, whether you ask for them or not? I like to think all of the above apply, but that is a personal interpretation.


Doug Hammer's thoughts and feelings regarding this subject matter relating to being melancholy come through the keys of his piano. When you look at the track titles, they also tell a story. The opener, "Darkness Falls," is more than the disappearance of light; it purposefully sets the right tone going forward. There are two other tracks concerning the night as well. "Missing You," "Empty Chair," and "Farewell" also have a significant meaning and impact on the perception of a prospective listener. And that is the way this is intended. Although life has its beautiful times and memories that we can relive in our minds, we all fall upon darkness more than once in this life.


I don't think the intent here is not to depress anyone; it is about feelings I am sure we all have felt over the last three years due to the pandemic, inflation, and an ongoing war in Ukraine. Some, I am sure, have been overwhelmed and distraught. We all feel it in different ways. 


This music is simplistic yet effective in gently asking you to reflect, look inward at your soul, and be honest with how you feel. Once you take that step forward, the process begins. That process can vary, again, depending on who you are. For me, any of this kind of process is like healing. The music beckons me to listen, letting it take me away. That is as simple as it gets, for me, anyway.


Let me put this into perspective from where I sit. When you are "Winding Down," and it's "Almost Midnight," it is time to say "Farewell." My point here is that words and music, used correctly, can be so powerful and have meaning for so many people. In the case of Doug Hammer and his contemporary instrumental tracks from Melancholia, that very idea and journey are lived through each of us. This is soothing and thoughtful music to listen to at any time. That fact alone should tell you how sound this recording is.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

October 24, 2022


01. Darkness Falls 4:08 

02. The Long Night 3:17 

03. Long Ago 2:29 

04. Just A Memory 3:14 

05. Laika 2:29 

06. Monsieur Barre’s Carousel 1:58 

07. Empty Chair 2:32 

08. Missing You 2:53 

09. Dancing Alone 3:01 

10. Letting Go 4:10 

11. Winding Down 2:23 

12. Almost Midnight 2:56 

13. Farewell 2:41

New Age/Contemporary Instrumental Review: Doug Hammer- piano2

Release Date: December 31, 2019
Label: Dreamworld Productions

Previous to Doug Hammer’s 13th proper studio recording piano2, I had the distinct pleasure to cover two entirely different releases. Christmas Lights in 2015 and Americana in 2016. The titles are self-explanatory however this title leaves you thinking what could be coming out of your speakers.
What I can say with unequivocal joy is that piano2 is as diverse musically as the last two I heard and reviewed. Doug likes to mix it up and play many different styles, touching upon a multitude of genres. 

There is new age, contemporary classical, like “A Rainy Night with You” or some jazz-inflected honky-tonk like on “Chasin’ Possum.” Or one of my favorites that I added to my New Age Music Review Spotify Playlist, “The Sunshine in You.” That one sounds as bright and energetic as the title implies. If the shoe fits wear it right? I believe that applies to all of this music, titles of the tracks are a lead into what you will hear. Everyone will hear something different but the one commonality is that if there is a love for instrumental piano music. The consequence of that is piano2 will be your cup of tea straight away.

The changes can be dramatic from one track to the next and that is exactly what makes it such a great listen. It will hold your attention from beginning to end. 

One thing that always fascinates me is the process an artist goes through creating a recording from scratch. This what Doug said about his process with piano2:

 “I would work on an accompaniment first and then listen to that and record melodic ideas on another track. Then, I would go back and refine the accompaniment and then again go back and refine the melody.”

So, the very beginning steps then turns into refinement on different levels of production. What you get after all that passionate piano playing and structuring of compositions is nothing but beauty. To be more specific, this is musical bliss that anyone could enjoy and or appreciate. 

My entire being is touched by music like this because I do not have to think about any lyrics, I just let the music take me to another mindset, a place where I love to go time and time again. I am giving thanks to Doug Hammer and every artist out there that has given me that gift. If you are looking for something like I am, then give piano2 a spin or stream it with the player provided right now.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 16, 2020
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


 01. Shimmer in Disaster
02. You're the One
03. The Sunshine in You
04. Across the Plains  
05. Reaching for the Moon    
06. Strut Your Stuff  
07. Chasin' Possum
08. A Rainy Night with You     
09. The Uncertainty Principle
10. Round and Round      
11. Fanfare      
12. Celtic Heart
13. Walking with You
14. Shine Bright  
15. The Last Goodbye  

Instrumental World-New Age Review: Doug Hammer-Celtique

Release Date: September 21, 2018
Label: Dreamworld Productions

Doug Hammer must be an old soul. To write instrumental songs about ancient lands and fisherman of the world, you have to dig down deep. You have to get the feeling of a place and time, then look inside yourself where that spark can turn into a flame. I think Doug does that with his music. Keep in mind that every track has double meanings and it ends like it starts, an unbroken circle. That will give you something to ponder while listening.

Celtique is dedicated to all fisherman that have risked their lives for our survival. There are 15 tracks to enjoy on this release. I found it most interesting just how many albums were released on September 21st this year. I think there is a connection with that date, being the introduction of another season is significant and the new music ushering us in. I notice subtle nuances like that but to me there is nothing subtle about it. And here is why - it's also a Celtic Holiday called Mabon, a mid-Harvest celebration. There was a fact I did not know so thank you Doug!

The perfect track to encapsulate the feelings, atmospheres, sights, and sounds that this music delivers to you is “Wind and Waves.” The music is like the wind blowing against your face and the rhythms and force of the sounds are like waves combing across your body, making their way inside to your heart and soul. Suddenly you realize that this man and his piano has put you right where he wanted to.

I think an album cover sets the tone and atmosphere of what you are about to hear, and with an entirely instrumental album, it is absolutely key. The flavors of the world are what this artist is all about, and the title (and fonts) tell you where you are about to arrive. Every album is a celebration of a place or timeframe. For my listening experience, the time is now, however, I am able to go back as far in time as I wish because this kind of music allows it. The intrinsic element of instrumental music is the focus it provides, not to mention how intensely focused the person presenting the music must be!

The way Doug plays those ivory keys is something to behold, his sound is so full and alive. One would think just one piano could not tell such an interesting story but he gets it done. It actually sounds like more than one piano at times, which is quite amazing.

That, my music loving friends, is the power of music. Celtique is an awesome expression of art. The talent it takes to create a recording like this is beyond my comprehension. To be a listener and feel the music like it was intended is something special. That is all any recording artist could ask for.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 27, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

01. Celtique (Daybreak)
02. Through the Mist
03. Wandering Path
04. Crumbling Wall
05. Ancient Stones
06. She Beckons
07. To the Sea
08. Wind and Waves
09. Calm Water
10. Safe Harbor   
11. Voices of the Past
12. Golden Land
13. Moss and Earth
14. Journey Home
15. Celtique (Twilight)

Holiday/New Age Instrumental Review: Doug Hammer-Christmas Lights

Release Date: November 27, 2015
Label: Dreamworld Productions

Christmas Lights, Doug Hammer's tenth release, is a follow-up to his award-winning Christmas album, Noel. It contains seventeen traditional favorites and a new original composition, Christmas Lights. There is a combination of new age, holiday, classical and more mixed into the compositions.

Over the last year I have become more appreciative of piano-based music than ever before. I find it simplistic and complex, moving and emotional, relaxing and uplifting…those are a few of the prominent terms that come to mind.

Doug’s piano playing invites you into a world filled with the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of a child who is now an adult. With all the bright colorful lights and the joy of taking a drive with your family to see different houses and how their lights and decorations displayed in all their splendor… the music sweeps you away to a magical place removed from your current reality.

What is presented here is simple and straightforward piano music with different elements sprinkled in, kind of like Grandma’s special recipe for Christmas cookies. Doug’s talented fingers do all the talking through this instrumental journey. With the stroke of each note the Holiday is right at your doorstep beckoning you to come in and let it absorb your being. If that is the intent here, it surely accomplishes that.

“Away In A Manger” is beautifully done. Doug’s fingers delicately stroke the keys and you instantly envision the little Lord Jesus in the manger. The effect is seamless, powerful and effective, taking you away to when this event actually took place so long.

Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” is an upbeat track; it is like dancing on the rooftops on a crisp winter night, thus asking the fair ladies to bring along some light to lead the way. This probably has nothing to do with the meaning of the song; however that is what it did for me. Everyone is affected in different ways by music. The sheer beauty of unencumbered instrumental music is the fact that you can paint your own picture as you go.

”Deck The Halls” is another age old-classic done in a way you will likely hear for the first time. The piano playing is amazing. The artist builds the song into his own by playing layer upon layer of keys and at a very quick pace. It is like a tidal wave of music with one instrument serving as the featured star. I absolutely loved it.

Doug closes the curtain on this newly born Christmas classic recording with his original title track. It is a step away from the norm as he turns the page on all the classic compositions and gives each listener a taste of his own Christmas and his incredible talent for capturing the moment. I found it a wonderful way to close out the album and it leaves it open for another chapter to come perhaps?

It usually does not take me long to get my fill of Christmas music because of the commercialism and it all kicking in prior to Halloween now. This music however allows me to actually find the true meaning of the Holiday and appreciate a talented artist pouring his heart and soul into something that carries a message and heartfelt meaning. This is great instrumental music that I think can be enjoyed any time of year, but for now you are well advised to enjoy it and usher in the Holiday. 

4.5/5 Stars

01. Angels We Have Heard On High
02. Joy To The World
03 It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
04. Away In A Manger
05. Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant
06. Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
07. Deck The Halls
08. O Come, All Ye Faithful
09. What Child Is This?
10. Once In Royal David's City
11. Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring
12. Good King Wenceslas
13. Jingle Bells
14. Still, Still, Still
15. Coventry Carol
16. O Holy Night
17. Toyland
18. Christmas Lights

Key Tracks: Away In A Manger, Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella, Deck The Halls

Keith “MuzikManHannaleck- New Age Music Reviews Founder
December 5, 2015

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews