Orville Everet Hammond, D.M.A.
“The creative line is always firm and his musical gestures are clear and communicative” ~ quotes the Jamaica Journal about its native-born pianist.
Dr. Orville Hammond is the Department Head of Performance Studies at the School of Music / Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, (EMCVPA) in Kingston, where he also coordinates the Jazz Studies /Contemporary Music Program, teaches jazz piano and improvisation, and is the artistic director of EMCVPA’s annual celebration of ‘International Jazz Day’.
He began piano studies at age seven and credits his mother, Catalina, for his first piano lessons. His involvement with, and passion for, jazz emerged early on, influenced, in part, by jazz recordings his father, Oscar, would play at home. Hammond’s music reveals varied stylistic influences and an affinity for his Caribbean roots.
Hammond earned prestige at a young age, with diplomas from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, under the tutelage of the late Jamaican pianist, Fay Ennever-Robotham. He won gold and silver medals for piano performance in music festival competitions held in Kingston. His development in traditional music and jazz ran concurrently - formal classical music studies while learning jazz performance practice from the ‘university of the streets’, so to speak, at a time when jazz music was a fervent part of the musical fabric of the island.
Early on, he performed with several top-shelf Jamaican artistes across the island, including Glen Browne, Desi Jones, Peter Ashbourne, Byron White, Janet Enright, Carl McLeod, Myrna Hague, Cedric “Im” Brooks, Ernest Ranglin, Lloyd Mason, and Larry McDonald, and spent several fruitful years with the Taddy Mowatt band, aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet of ships.
Hammond’s professional career began in Jamaica with a steady engagement at the Playboy Club/Hotel, in Boscobel, St. Mary. Bassist Harold Williams, drummer Clifton Samuels and tenor saxophonist Carlton Samuels and Hammond, on the Steinway and a Hammond B3 formed the quartet which performed together for four-plus years. It was a musically rewarding engagement. In subsequent years, 1980 - 84, in addition to being a staple of the monthly Mutual Life performance series, Hammond performed solo piano at the well-known Blue Mountain Inn while an adjunct lecturer in jazz piano at the Jamaica School of Music, in Kingston. It was during this period that he met the acclaimed pianist Frances Walker who encouraged Hammond to consider further studies in music, piano, in particular.
In 1984, he matriculated to Oberlin College, where he earned the Bachelor of Music degree (B.M.). There, Hammond studied with pianists Walker and Sanford Margolis. He holds the Master of Music (M.M.) in jazz performance from the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, N.Y.; his Doctor of Musical Arts degree (D.M.A.) in composition is from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, in Ohio. His teachers have included Joel Hoffman, Mara Helmuth, Darrell Handel, Bill Dobbins, Rayburn Wright, and Ben Newhouse. He has also studied with pianist Jim McNeely, the late Sanford Gold; at the Taubman and Golandsky Piano Institutes, and taught piano and jazz at the University of Kentucky. He has conducted master classes in jazz piano, improvisation and ensemble performance across Kentucky and the southeastern United States.
Hailed by the Knoxville News-Sentinel as “… a pleasant surprise …” in a review of his Knoxville, Tennessee performance, Mr. Hammond’s multidimensional ability expresses itself at all levels of his music and his influences emerge, in part, from performing with artists across the musical spectrum. He has opened for Bill Cosby, Tony Bennett and Gary Burton, and has performed with Jamey Aebersold, Benny Golson, Richard Davis, Branford Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Jimmy Cliff, Hermeto Pascoal and Kenny Wheeler, to name a few. Hammond’s performances have been well-received throughout Kentucky, the Southeastern United States and internationally, in Spain, Brazil, Jamaica, Morocco, and at the Montreux and Ocho Rios jazz festivals. He has appeared as soloist with the Louisville and Knoxville Symphony Orchestras, and with the Czech Martinu Philharmonic, under the baton of Maestro Kirk Trevor.
A versatile composer, Hammond’s compositions have been premiered in Martinique, the Czech Republic and New York City. He scored the music for the documentary film “Ellis Wilson - So Much to Paint”, produced by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council. The Orville Hammond Trio had its New York debut in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and has been featured on Black Entertainment Television (BET). In summer 2016, Hammond and his quartet performed at the Palaver International Literary Festival, in Ontario Wasaga Beach, Canada.
A partial list of his compositions include:
Dialogue for Three, a chamber work for viola, cello, and piano
Children’s Songs, Five miniatures for piano solo
Crosscurrents, an extended work for piano solo
Caribbean Dance: (for string quartet)
Caribbean suite, for piano, bass, drums, and percussion.
North Coast Sojourn: (for Orchestra)
A Brief Philosophy of Teaching
“My aim in teaching is to enable the learning process, to awaken an imagination fueled by healthy understanding of discipline and tradition. These values frame a stepwise motion toward students’ self-realization of limitless possibilities.”
A Few Words on Composing…
“An improviser, at heart, my compositional efforts often stem from my explorations at the piano. In truth, there are many approaches to the process, but in general, I adopt an ‘organized futzing’ with the materials until they form a musical tapestry that speaks to me in a satisfying way.”
- Dr. Orville Hammond, January 2017