On 2011’s KAESHAMMER, Michael Kaeshammer doesn’t simply wow you with his chops; he invites you in and talks to you. Yes, he’s a gifted singer and songwriter, a highly trained technician and interpreter and an incendiary piano player. But also, on stage and off, he’s a consummate host.
Recorded at Toronto’s Drive Shed and Keen Studios in 2010 and produced by Ron Lopata (Jacksoul, Ron Sexsmith) KAESHAMMER plays like a love letter to life – A set of original songs as playful as they are contagious. Literally, a feast for your ears that blends ingredients from Kaeshammer’s vast store of jazz, soul, pop and R&B influences, served up fresh, piping hot, and with a huge helping of joy on the side.
That joy is clear from the first note of KAESHAMMER, as is Kaeshammer’s uncanny ability to take ‘a bit of musical this’ and ‘a touch of musical that’ and create a sound that is uniquely his own – A singular brand of pop tinged jazz that owes as much to Billy Joel and Paul McCartney as to Professor Longhair and Albert Ammons on hook laden love songs like ‘A Little Bit Of Love.
But while Kaeshammer’s fiery style incorporates elements of his early influences – the New Orleans sound of Fats Waller, Art Tatum and James Booker – on tracks like ‘Kisses In Zanzibar’ and the high-energy, boogie fuelled romp, ‘Rendezvous’, he also takes his cue from one of his own all-time favourite records, Robert Palmer’s Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, recorded in New Orleans with influential local funk outfit, The Meters, in 1974. In short, it’s the musical equivalent of Gumbo.
A night with Michael and his band isn’t the kind of show where you just sit, watch and applaud politely every now and then. Their goal isn’t to intimidate you with the scholarly depth of their music, it’s to entertain, inform and include you – a wild ride with no fixed destination except where he feels he and the crowd want to go.