Now, Center of Time 
(2002) Realm Music - RM407  (CD only)

"Now, Center of Time" is Jamie's latest - his first solo CD in 9 years! This is an epic solo recording of 8 improvisations that take the you on a sonic journey. Now, Center of time is about being in the present moment as you create spontaneous art. Now, Center of Time has received glowing reviews.

Listen to Some of the CD (128k MP3):

Track 1: Arc
Track 2: Playa
Track 5: Momentinium

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"Now, Center of Time" Review :

The Hammered Dulcimer may be the original jam instrument. It's an ancient and mystical beast, created in the Appalachian mountains and popularized during the colonial era. A string instrument played with a hammer, the dulcimer unleashes a sound that recalls a guitar-piano duet, with some steel blues thrown in for good measure. Like any aspect of the jam-world, the hammered dulcimer has a small, close-knit following of musicians and historians, who track the instrument's development over time. The Official Hammered Dulcimer web page even ends its biography of the instrument with this hippie-ish ideology: The appeal of this instrument is its flexibility and ease of play. Unlike the violin or the piano, the hammered dulcimer does not take years of practice to acquire good playing skills. Many of the best players do not read music; rather they learn all the tunes by ear. Music is passed from one musician to another in this fashion.

But, Jamie Janover may be the first Hammered Dulcimer player to fully infiltrate the jamband community. He's played with some of the biggest guns in the genre, including Phish, String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams, Karl Denson, Leftover Salmon, Jazz Mandolin Project, G-Love, Gov't Mule, and Deep Banana Blackout. His work has appeared on String Cheese's recordings and his photography has graced the cover of their albums. Janover fully embraces improv ideology and has included some of his modern-rock collaborators on his earlier recordings. Yet, Jamie Janover's latest recording, Now, Center of Time, sounds nothing like any of the above-mentioned bands. Eight quiet, moving numbers recorded live without overdubs or fadeouts, Now, Center of Time sounds more like a classical concerto than a grooving jam.

Though Janover's hammered dulcimer is the only instrument to appear on the album, its over 200 strings giving the illusion of a small combo, creating several duet like numbers. At times it sounds like such string instruments as the guitar, piano, and ukulele. With a single instrument taking center stage, every string touched matters, making chords shine like they were part of a mellow, acoustic guitar solo. The album opens with "Arc," a pastoral collection of high pierced, but pleasant, sounds that give listeners a nice introduction to the relatively unknown instrument. With most tracks running between seven and twelve minutes, Janover gives himself plenty of room to play around with the Hammond Dulcimer's abilities, particularly on the album's best track, "Even Horizon". Sprinkled with some Renaissance flavoring, the soothing track packs in so many sounds that I initially thought he had an accompanist before referring to the liner notes. Yet, the track never sounds cluttered or muddled. The fast paced "Septennial Constellations," clocking in at just less than 13 minutes, starts off in a rush, as if racing against time before mellowing out in the middle, and coming to a dramatic close of stops, starts, and changing chords.

Another interesting note about Now, Center of Time is that Janover took almost all the photographs which appear on the album's cover and in its liner notes. A professional photographer, Janover's pictures complement his music nicely, and, in this case, capture man's peaceful coexistence with nature. Whether its Janover's shadow reflecting on the Earth or the Sun peering over his hand, it is a tranquil, well fitting entry into the world of Now, Center of Time. The blue sky and brown Earth Janover uses in his work provide a nice contrast with Janover's black shirt and brown instrument, helping to capture the album's theme of being in the center of time.

Though jam-music is usually pumped under jazz and rock headings, Now, Center of Time seems to foreshadow a new, possibly more mature, era for the genre. Though Janover's style contains the spontaneity and improvisational aspects of the most adventurous jam, its sound feels structured and charted, as if it was a piece of classical music. This is a result of the instrument's colonial sound, proof that expanding the palette of instruments will only increase the style's limits. Jamie Janover's work may even be the prototype for the seemingly oxymoronic classical-fusion genre, a style of experimental music that fans of all ages can enjoy. But, until that genre is fully developed, Now, Center of Time is a brave, bold, and new statement on what it means to be a free musician.

Mike Greenhaus -