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Michael Kaeshammer: Strut (2004)

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Michael Kaeshammer: Strut No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Michael Kaeshammer studied classical piano when he was a child. By the time he entered his teens, he fell in love with boogie-woogie piano. Form then on, jazz and its diverse extensions captured his muse, and his first recording, 1996's Blue Skies, showcased that proclivity. Time saw the release of two more albums and now, with his fourth, Kaeshammer shows a compact feel for mood and dynamics.

Kaeshammer and his band converse fluidly and bring in an emotional impetus that drives the tunes. But give it to him as he socks out the boogie-woogie on “Bass Gone Crazy” (which composer Albert Ammons also recorded as a solo), the bass accented by his left hand. He adds to the skein of imagination with “Almost a Rag,” which moves just enough from the core of the style to bring in a distinct, pleasing adjunct.

The blues come in on “Cry to Me,” where his yearning vocals bring the right pathos, and on “Twentysomething,” a delightful choogle elevated by the accents of Johnny Vidacovich on drums, with Ben Wolfe on bass singing a fine melodic line.

One test for a musician is adaptability to standards and the way they are read. Kaeshammer does well on both counts. “Blue Skies” has a moving time scape. Kaeshammer is buoyant on a traipsing melody at the outset but is coaxed into a hardier métier by Vidacovich before they come together for an amiable dialogue, with the former making good use of space and the drummer using the cymbals in gossamer hue before punching out in a final crescendo. Kaeshammer gets “Sunday Morning” in his stride, his left hand and right locked in harmony.

Michael Kaeshanmmer is one heck of a musician and he deserves a wider audience. It’s a sure bet that it won’t be long before he has one.

Visit Alma Records on the web.

Track Listing: Twentysomething; Sleepy Time; Bass Gone Crazy; Comes Love; Now?; Almost a Rag; You

Personnel: Michael Kaeshammer

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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