The professor hasn’t observed a remarkable evolution in guitar music during his lifetime.
“When you look at the master works of any genre; classical, flamenco, pop, rock ‘n’ roll or jazz — I’ll frequently find something and think ‘Wow, that’s fresh and new,’” he said. “Then I’ll look at the date on the record and it’s 1967. Ralph Towner’s music is a perfect example.”
Students often bring wonderful “new” music to Hammett who recognizes much of it as being a rehash of techniques from 40 years ago.
“Evolution is just a slow slog and I haven’t seen much of it,” he said.
Hammett praised the quality of students at OU.
“I mostly deal with my guitar majors and they are great,” he said. “They’re very inquisitive and challenge me. I encourage them to do that and they’re in my face about stuff, which I like.”
As a youth himself, Hammett admired guitarists who were making a lot of money.
“If they were successful and had organized their lives in such a way that they were playing what they wanted to, making a living and having a healthy concert career, those were my heroes,” he said. “I must have liked the music, too, and they included Leo Kottke, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, Michael Hedges and even guys like Roy Clark who I’d see on The Tonight Show being goofy and playing the crap out of his guitar.”
In the past, Hammett’s recordings have been ensembles but his newest album is solo.
“The first half of the program will be those compositions,” Hammett said of his upcoming Sunday performance. “They’re a little impressionistic, whimsical, starting nebulously and ending the same way. They’re floating ideas.”
After that section he’ll be introducing to the stage keyboardist Dennis Borycky, percussionist Mark Giammario and bassist Anthony Stoops on bass.
Tickets, $10 for adults and $7 for students, are available at the Norman Depot. Office and gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. For additional information, visit pasnorman.org or call 405-307-9320.