*cover article from Manhattan Plaza News June 2003
by Maria Ciaccia
photos by Teddy Fung
JON HAMMOND Jazz Man
Jon Hammond's story is one of survival. Survival as a jazz musician, survival as a Manhattanite. The organist-accordionist has survived because of perseverance, love of his art, tremendous humor, and gratitude. His new independently produced and marketed CD, HAMMOND'S BOLERO, which contains only music written by Hammond, is both a statement and a tribute. As his CD notes begin, "This record marks a new beginning for me, and I would like to dedicate it to all those who, like myself, are striking out on their own and going it alone. Don't be afraid to follow your dreams. I did and now this record is for you!" Following his dream at times has not been easy.
Take his living situation. Hammond is fairly new to Manhattan Plaza---a resident for just two years---and like everything else involving this multitalented man, there's an interesting story attached. "I'm living under a lucky star after years of putting up with all kinds of adverse conditions. Manhattan Plaza has been a great, great help for me." Living in the Clinton area, Hammond survived six ceiling collapses in his apartment and was finally driven out by sick building syndrome, i.e. poisonous mold in the walls. He realized it only after watching an epsode of 60 MINUTES. Did he sue? "No," he says. "Put it this way---the title song for my TV show is called 'Late Rent.' I used to pay my landlord partial payments, etc. so I never sued."
As a further testament to his Manhattan survival, Hammond is a nineteen-year-veteran of cable access with his own television show, aptly titled THE JON HAMMOND SHOW. Manhattan Plaza residents Todd Anderson (tenor sax) and Bill Warfield (trumpet) have been featured as part of the band. the show airs on Monday at 9:30 p.m. on channels 56 and 108 and various times on other channels. For more information, viewers can check Hammond's website, http://community.webtv.net/laterent/JONHAMMOND
Jon Hammond Band
But before the glamour of Manhattan, CD's, opening for Bonnie Raitt, and some other high-class gigs, Hammond paid his dues. Attending the Berklee college of Music in Boston in 1973, he earned money on the wild side. "I used to play in these Mafia striptease clubs seven nights a week. Boy, that was the end of an era. I was working for the Venus brothers, notorious gangsters, and I was the house organist at the infamous 2 O'Clock Lounge, the Mousetrap Lounge, The Hungry I---all these clubs that were in what was known as the Combat Zone in Boston."
And how did he get to New York? "Well, I knew a stripper named Didi Bangbang, a really nice girl. She knew I had a van. When you have a van, you get some interesting calls. She had a show at this burlesque club in New York so she said, 'Drive me and I'll introduce you to New York.' This was in 1975. She had wild props, like a plexiglass round platform with disco lights inside of it. We loaded everything in this army green van and drove to New York."
From New York, Hammond went on the road with a show band called Easy Living "It was one of the top show bands---this was before disco---and you'd get on the different circuits. We were in the $10,000-a-week bracket."
Just one problem. "I get the call for a really great gig, but it's always at the end. When you see me show up, it's a doomsday situation. The band toured for six months. We were in Toronto working at the Four Seasons Inn on the Park, one of the nicest hotels I've ever been in in my life. I was living like a king. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Well, they had installed a DJ booth---the first place we ever played with one installed. He played on our breaks. They would cross-fade, meaning we would re-enter playing the music he had been playing. But I could see the handwriting on the wall. The disco thing had not really come in and taken over yet---the very first tune that was a big disco hit was "The Hustle." "We had to do it with the band. That tune was like the death knell. Disco came in and the bands went out."
A musician's life involves a lot of travel, and that Hammond has done---back and forth throughout North America, from New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Cape Cod, and Toronto. "Around 1977, I ended up in Boston again. There I heard through the grapevine that Lou Colombo, the trumpet player, was looking for an organist for a private harbor club in Harwichport, Massachussets. Another great job. One of the members was Tip O'Neil, who became Speaker of the House, and I played all of his private parties. He was always very nice. That lasted for two years and then they reduced the nights."
In September 1981, Hammond fulfilled his dream of a lifetime---traveling to Paris on the Concorde. "I lived it out exactly as I saw it in my dream." Hammond recalls. "I had a haircut. I bought a dark blue suit. I bought a case that I still travel with today. Every man was wearing the same suit I was. As soon as the plane took off, I realized I was leaving the continent for the first time and I got very emotional."
Hammond stayed in Paris "as long as I could. I wrote music there. It was more than I hoped it would be. I swore I'd come back to live. I ended up in Europe for six years, actually in Frankfurt, going back and forth to the States, from 1991 to 1997." For being a consultant on the design, Suzuki gave him an XB-2 Hammond organ, which was a big help to him.
A career change occurred when he and his band were hired to play at the Jazzkeller in Frankfurt. "I went on a TV show to promote it," he recalls, "Later on, I took a cab to the club and there was a huge commotion outside. I thought it was due to a group playing an earlier set. I said to the cab driver, 'Gee, I hope they finish soon.' the driver said, "They're waiting for you.;" Though Hammond did very well in Europe, including a concert on Radio France, a trade war soon found american jazz musicians being cut out of European work. "I came home on Pakistan Airlines" the former Concorde passenger remembers. Hammond is used to the roller coaster ride of the musician---one day on tour with Percy Sledge, the next day coming home from France with $50.
Hammond recently returned from successful concerts in Germany at the International Trade show "Musikmesse" for the seventeenth consecutive year with his co-producer Joe Berger, of Ham-Berger-Friz Records, the producer of the CD. You got it. Hamburger/fries. Hammond's CD is currently getting radio play in Germany and National Public Radio stations in the U.S. Several manhattan Plaza residents are involved in the CD. On April 28, he had a launch party at Le Bar Bat.
Though only occasionally veering outside of the music world, Hammond did something unusual in 2001. "My mother called me and said, 'Jon, they're hiring at United Airlines.' I thought, what can it hurt to please my mother, I"ll apply. I did get an offer but I was unable to take it because it involved transporting luggage, and I couldn't do it because of my bad back. However, they then found out that I speak German. I was offered a better job in International. Now guess when I was supposed to start training? October 2001. Well, you know what happened to the airlines after 9/11, and you know what I said about getting a gig at the death knell. So this told me one thing, I'm supposed to be a musician." He's right.
*Update: Hammond in Moscow! *story: with pictures: http://community.webtv.net/GoldenPenMan/BLUESINTHEMOSCOW
Miracle on 42nd Street Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-0A56IC6uM MIRACLE ON 42ND STREET is a feature length documentary about the unique apartment complex called Manhattan Plaza located in Manhattan's historic theatre district, a neighborhood also known as Hell's Kitchen. Located on the block between 42nd and 43rd Streets, it is often called the "Miracle on 42nd Street" due to the near-miraculous effect the complex has had on the once-blighted neighborhood and on the lives of its residents. Seventy percent of the occupants work in the performing arts and thirty percent are Hell's Kitchen residents who are elderly, disabled or have been relocated from substandard housing. The film tells the story of how this innovative affordable housing experiment came to be, the artists it has nurtured, the close community its residents and management have created and the positive impact it has had on the economy of Manhattan's West Side. The filmmakers, several of whom are current and former residents, are passionate about sharing the story of Manhattan Plaza with the world. It is a unique model of what can be achieved by bringing together over 3,500 people from differing cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds. The film is intended for festival release and to air on television. We hope that by making this film, the example of Manhattan Plaza will inspire new ways of thinking about affordable housing in cities around the globe. We believe that Manhattan Plaza's success was brought about by the creative community it housed, people whose dreams and goals might not have been realized had it not been for the opportunity of living in Manhattan Plaza. People like Broadway composer Alan Menken, Terrence Howard, Alicia Keys, Tennessee Williams, Marin Alsop (groundbreaking female orchestra conductor), Dexter Gordon, Larry David, Charles Mingus, Mickey Rourke, Andrea McArdle (Broadway's first Annie) and Sandy, her dog. Samuel L. Jackson worked there as a security guard in his first and only non-acting job. Bringing Back Sony Tape Recorder Audio Transfer Project Jon Hammond rock band Hades 1971 recordings Archive at CHRS Radio Clinic at California Historical Radio Society, Elmo disassembles Jon Hammond's TC-366 tape deck on the bench from Kozo Ohsone Sony Tape Recorder Division to play back 40 year old archive recording Berkeley El Cerrito based band HADES recorded live at Provo Park in Berkeley and at rehearsal garage on Carlson Blvd. Richmond recorded on a TC-366 sound on sound reel to reel tape deck, here is the machine on the bench with Elmo: HammondCast 19 http://www.archive.org/details/HammondCast_19_1 HammondCast 19 starts out in Frankfurt Germany recording in AFN Europe Headquarters on one big tube microphone featuring Hungarian tenor saxophone star TONY LAKATOS, now a member of the HR Radio Big Band. And a slow rainy day Blues featuring guitarist JOE BERGER and RAY GRAPPONE drums, Jon on the XB-2 organ/bass. Also a 35 year-old recording of my old rock band HADES and a shout out to the bass player STEVE WRIGHT who is recuperating from a stroke and heart attack but is now starting to speak again, get better Steve! From there to 1995 recording in LE BAR BAT NYC playing Jon's tune "Pocket Funk". A song I recorded with Eddie Money that is close to Eddie's heart: "I've Been Lovin' You Too Long" for all the Eddie Money freaks out there. I just saw Eddie in NY and he's doin' fine, still touring in a city near you! And finally ending up back in AFN Europe Headquarters playing Jon Hammond's theme song: "LATE RENT", dedicated to YOU of KYOU the your Rent will never be Late! http://www.HammondCast.com HADES R to L: Steve Wright bass vocals, Jimmy Thorsen guitar vocals, Dave Danza drums, Jon Hammond organ electric piano
*WATCH THE VIDEO: Sk1 James and Wes Blues Jon Hammond Band
Sk1 James and Wes Blues Jon Hammond Band
Jon Hammond on Hammond Sk1 World's First Road Test of ultra-portable Hammond Sk1 with Jon Hammond Band in Germany at Jon's annual Musikmesse-Session in Jazzkeller Hofheim April 8, 2011 Special Thanks Suzuki Musical Instruments, Ken Atsumi, Waichiro 'Tachi' Tachikawa, Hiromitsu Ono, Yu Beniya, Shigeyuki Ohtaka, Shuji Suzuki, Bernie Capicchiano, Malc Deakin Hammond Suzuki UK Europe, Michael Falkenstein Hammond Suzuki Germany, camera: Jennifer
Joe Berger guitar, Giovanni Gulino drums, Peter Klohmann tenor sax, Jon Hammond Sk1 Hammond Stage Keyboard http://www.jonhammondband.com
Sk1 Sk2 Hammond Suzuki Musikmesse Blues Organ Hofheim Hamamatsu Japan
Sk1 Sk2 Hammond Suzuki Musikmesse Blues Organ Hofheim Hamamatsu Japan
Meet The Incredible Sk1 Hammond with Michael Falkenstein and Jon Hammond
Filmed in Hammond-Showroom Karlstrasse 38
D-89129 Langenau Germany on April 19th 2011
"Meet The Incredible Sk1 Hammond with Michael Falkenstein and Jon Hammond"
First look at this exciting new keyboard product weighing in at 7 kilos, just over 15 lbs., it sounds like a real Hammond B3 organ with Leslie, or a full size grand piano, any type of famous vintage electric piano or synthesizer. This keyboard does it all and with original Hammond drawbars and it's feather light. Sk1 has a built in USB flash drive input, the keys are 'bullet proof' waterfall style keys that can hold up to extreme pressure of rockin' rock musicians, swinging jazz musicians and can even sound like a huge pipe organ. This film will blow your mind.
Available June 2011, contact Michael Falkenstein Hammond Suzuki Deutschland Europe http://www.hammond.de/kontakt.html
Special thanks, Hr. Klaus Maier founder of Hammond Germany, Suzuki Musical Instruments Chief Engineers Hiromitsu Ono, Ken Atsumi, Malc Deakin Hammond UK, Jennifer Schiele, Waichiro 'Tachi' Tachikawa, Bernie Capicchiano Bernies Music Land, Dennis Capiga Hammond Suzuki USA, Jan Kok & Siem Lassche of Hammond Suzuki Europe BV - dedicated to the Samurai Spirit of Japan during the recovery, we send our most sincere thanks and wishes for a speedy recovery to our good friends in Japan.
Sincerely, Jon Hammond
enjoy this film of the incredible Sk1 Hammond Stage Keyboard in action with 2 veteran players http://www.HammondCast.com
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