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Album Review: Piano2
Doug Hammer
Cover image of the album Piano2 by Doug Hammer
Piano2
Doug Hammer
2019 / Dreamworld Productions
57 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
If there is anything predictable about any of Doug Hammer’s recordings, it’s his versatility, the exceptionally high quality of his recordings, and his hunger to try something different. Piano2 (Piano Squared), his “lucky 13th” album, is a collection of fifteen original four-hand two-piano duets performed by Doug Hammer with - are you ready? - Doug Hammer! Using the wonders of modern recording technology, Hammer was able to record the parts separately and then tweak them to perfection as he put the parts together. These duets are absolutely seamless. Other artists have recorded and video’ed themselves playing duets with themselves, but not a whole album (that I am aware of). A master of a wide variety of musical genres, Hammer has created an album that ranges from jazzy up-tempo toe-tappers to romantic love songs-without-words to Celtic to more serious pieces and some that are just plain fun. I have been saying for years that Doug Hammer is an artist who can “do it all and do it all well,” and he proves that once again with Piano2.

The album begins with “Shimmer in Disaster,” an easy-going yet dazzling jazz piece that expresses the freedom of improvisation on both parts while staying together, seemingly without effort. “You’re the One” is a gorgeous, heartfelt ballad that is both loving and encouraging. “The Sunshine in You” returns to a jazz vibe, this time one that is joyful and sparkling - a celebration! “Across the Plains” is bold and dramatic in a more classical style and tells a story about riding a horse across the open plains. “Strut Your Stuff” is a favorite. Funky and overflowing with attitude, it’s impossible to sit still while listening to this one! The smoother middle section adds an interesting contrast to the playful main theme at the beginning and end of the piece. “Chasin’ Possum” is even more fun with its lively stride style - I love this one, too! And then we’re treated to a tender love song, “A Rainy Night with You.” “The Uncertainty Principle” is a constantly changing piece that weaves a fascinating variety of themes and rhythms together - again, seamlessly. “Celtic Heart,” another favorite, seems to be telling a poignant story with grace and eloquence - simply beautiful! “Walking with You” has an unhurried yet purposeful feeling - much like going for a long walk with a friend or other loved one where conversation is spare but silent communication is ongoing (my interpretation!). “Shine Bright” expresses warmth, understanding and encouragement - an emotional boost from someone who cares. “The Last Goodbye” brings this outstanding album to an emotional close with a piece that overflows with sadness, tenderness, love - and hope.

Doug Hammer has hit another one out of the ballpark! It seems that each time he releases a new album, it’s my favorite, and this one is no exception. You really need to hear it to appreciate the musical wizardry that went into Piano2. The album is available from DougHammer.net, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby as well as many streaming sites. Don’t miss it!

Doug (both of them!) and I will be doing an interview in coming weeks where we talk about how he made this album, so keep checking back!
January 20, 2020
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