Michael Kaeshammer: Lovelight (2009)
Michael Kaeshammer is an artist brimful with talent. Not only can he hold is own with some first-call pianists, but he can also play in a variety of styles and is well versed in the history of popular 20th century music. He is also a fine vocalist, with a slightly gravelly voice. He is well aware of his limited range, making use of it to squeeze emotion out of a song when required. He can also cast caution to the wind, throwing his head back and singing his heart out with such swagger that the effect is decidedly intoxicating. He is the kind of troubadour who is instantly recognizable because of his sharp inflection and delicate phrasing.
On Lovelight, he also comes up trumps in the songwriting department, featuring a repertoire of seven melodies that play to his distinctive voice. He also plays piano with a great deal of sensitivity, accompanying himself with surprising subtlety. He is exquisitely sensitive on "Dawn's Song," while full of longing and wistfulness on "On My Own." He drives up the emotional heat on "Goodbye," though it is by no means a tear-jerker, and adopts a moodily distant approach to "Give You My Heart," while still managing to pull off the heart of the song.
Three tracks"On My Own," "Goodbye" and "Give You My Heart"feature a big band, playing with wonderful colors, arranged and conducted by Canadian alto saxophonist, Phil Dwyer (who does not play here). All three songs are quite memorable and, if not suitable for impulsive dancing, then must surely feature the most infectiously joyful music on the disk. Also noteworthy is a magnificent version of the old Yiddish song "Bei Mir Bist du Schon," made so famous by The Andrews Sisters years ago, as well as Sam Cooke's "Cupid," which possesses a terrific, fuzzy ballad quality. The pure joy of "Hamp's Boogie" seems a fine way to bring this set to a close.
Perhaps the only downside is that it is much too short, compounded by the relative brevity of songs that, while memorably delivered, are all about five minutes or less. For an artist who can seemingly pull almost anything off with charm and attitude, this is something that Kaeshammer will have to address with his next diskwhich will, no doubt, be once again breathless with energy.
Track Listing: On My Own; Isabelle; Goodbye; Glory of Love; I Wish I Knew; Give You My Heart; Cupid; Dawn's Song; Now That My Baby's Gone; Bei Mir Bist Du Schon; Hamp's Boogie.
Personnel: Michael Kaeshammer: voice, piano, Fender Rhodes (8, 11), reed organ (7); Marc Rogers: acoustic bass, electric bass (3, 8), background vocals (12); Mark McLean: drums, percussion (1, 3, 5, 8), background vocals (8); William Sperandel: trumpet (1, 3); Chris Gale: tenor saxophone (1, 3); Kevin Breit: guitar (5); Justin Abedin: guitars (3, 5, 8); Karen Graves: violin (3); Kevin Fox: cello (3); Davide DiRenzo: percussion (3, 8); Joel Parisien: background vocals (3, 8); Ron Lopata: Hammond B3 organ (3); Tia Brazda: background vocals (7). Big Band (2, 4, 7) arranged by Phil Dwyer: Bob Leonard: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; John Johnson: tenor saxophone; Verne Dorge: alto saxophone; Jason Logue: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Dunlop: trumpet, flugelhorn; Steve McDade: trumpet, flugelhorn; Alister Kay: trombone; Gord Myers: trombone; Wayne Ferguson: piano technician.
Record Label: Alert Music