Sacramento Guitarist Ross Hammond Releases Album Of Jazz And Poetry In Support Of ACLU
(22 January 2018, SACRAMENTO) – Right from the jump it’s clear that nobody is messing around. The time for messing around has long since passed. Now is the time for action. Sacramento guitarist Ross Hammond’s new album, Unsilent Majority, begins with a relentless march, started by a pizzicato guitar that refuses to let up, refuses to be silenced. More instruments join in, then a poet, then even more instruments, occupying the sonic space like a free-blowing encampment. Whose music? Our music.
“I put out the call to any musicians and poets who wanted to get together to do a large, Sun-Ra-style ensemble where we’d record and give all of the proceeds to the ACLU,” Hammond said. “This happened right around the time of one of Trump’s travel bans and people were angry, afraid and feeling like they needed to do something. I thought we could channel those feelings into making some music.”
More than two dozen musicians and poets responded to Hammond’s call, volunteering their time and turning out to Hammond’s Gold Lion arts space to shout ecstatic truth at power.
“Music has always been a vehicle for social causes, to me,” Hammond said. “It’s what Pete Seeger, Chuck D, Archie Shepp and Billie Holiday did. If you have a voice you are required to use it.”
The poets on this recording – NSAA, Rachel Leibrock, Laura Cook, Russell Rawlings, Marcus Crowder, and Charles Smith – integrate seamlessly into the music, which, like water, finds its level behind their voices, then roars out as each poet finishes speaking.
“They care not about us,” declares poet NSAA, echoing Kanye West’s honesty about the Bush administration following 9/11. It’s not hard to imagine who “they” are, or why it’s so important for “us” not to let them win.
Longtime Hammond collaborator Vinny Golia makes an appearance here on several instruments, including some powerful bass clarinet work. Prog fans will also know drummer Jon Bafus from the band Gentleman Surfer. Also joining in are seven other woodwind players, four guitarists, two more drummers, a singer, a pianist, and a trumpet player. With so many musicians, you might expect chaos, but the music, while unbridled, never loses its focus.
Unsilent Majority is the first release on Hammond’s new Gold Lion Records label.
“It’s a small record label where all of the music is released to benefit various charities,” Hammond said. “We’ll put out records to try to help our local homeless situation, the Southern Poverty Law Center, women’s shelters, etc. This is going to be the first record and it will be available on March 1 by CD (limited edition of 100 copies), as a download at the Gold Lion Records band camp page (https://goldlionrecords.bandcamp.com), and then all streaming services.”