Buck Hammer

The Discovery of Buck Hammer

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Buck Hammer was supposedly a veteran Black boogie-woogie pianist who had passed away prior to the release of his only recorded date. After more than a few glowing reviews, it was revealed that this musician never existed to begin with, and the actual player was none other than television star, pianist, composer, and comedian, Steve Allen! Although Allen recorded in a jazz setting on a number of occasions during his long career, he never claimed to have terrific jazz chops, though he clearly could hold his own. No less a player than Teddy Wilson once told him, "Gee, I wish I could play boogie-woogie like you." Allen and his anonymous rhythm section are clearly having fun throughout the session. In retrospect, critics might have been alerted by the sometimes corny rhythmic accompaniment, particularly the up-tempo "Jungle Boogie" (which adds bongos), or the obvious overdubbed keyboards in a few places. Neither Allen's originals, nor his boogie-woogie arrangements of two standards achieve the heights of the greats of the genre (Meade "Lux" Lewis, Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons, and Jimmy Yancey). But this long out of print Hanover LP is still fun to play for unsuspecting jazz fans, though it is all but impossible to find.

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