Released in 1977, Ellipse features Hammond on percussion, drums, piano and voice along with Karen Joseph on flute and alto flute. Moving fluidly from the uptempo “Warm Up” to the deep, dreamy “Concentric Dream”, this session runs the gamut with Hammond drawing inspiration from an “inner-voice that has roots in Africa, which manifests itself through impressions perceived by the composer in America from his African ancestors”. A rare and underrated spiritual jazz excursion, reissued on vinyl for the first time in decades.
A composer, writer, percussionist, singer and coordinator, Doug Hammond was born in Tampa, Florida in 1942, the city where he cut his teeth in percussive studies with Don Templeton’s Tampa Metropolitan Symphony, preparing for a career in classical music that he would never enter into. Instead, Hammond began a career that would eschew typification and stylistic categories, excelling at everything from blues to bop and free jazz.
Though he may be most remembered as the composer and one of the vocalists of “Mingus Moves,” Hammond is much more than that. His journey began as a musician. Before his high school graduation, he was playing blues music with Barney Lowis and B.B. King, who went onto get him his first gigs sitting in with Earl Hooker. By the grace of pianist and vocalist Kitty Daniels, Hammond was inducted into jazz, at first playing with Andy “Gump” Martin and then, upon graduation, The Five Royals, Little Willie John and Sam and Dave.
Splitting his time between New York City and Detroit in the 60s and 70s, Hammond lent his percussive and vocal talents to Donald Byrd, Sonny Rollins, Kenny Dorham, Charles Mingus, Sam Rivers, Etta James, Nina Simone, the Dorothy Ashby Trio and more. In 1967, he became a founding member and vice president of the Detroit Creative Musicians Association, an artist-led cooperative that presaged Tribe, Strata and Strata-East. He was the co-founder of the music and literature collective Focus Novii as well as the longtime coordinator of the Jazz am Berg series in Linz, Austria while also teaching at Bruckner University. Over the years, his compositions have been performed by Charles Mingus, Steve Coleman, Dave Holland Quintet, Duesseldorfer Studio Ensemble of the Robert Schumann Institute/Germany, Jazzanova, Carl Craig, George Crumb Trio, Family of Percussion, Archie Shepp, Walter Haas, Paul Epstein, Michael Riessler, Dwight Adams, Tribe, and more.