Monday, April 4, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: MICHAEL KAESHAMMER - KAESHAMMER
Album #3 for the Toronto piano pro, and it's the one that best shows all his sides and styles. A vibrant showman, Kaeshammer has chops to spare, and an all-around interest in entertaining you, and that really comes alive on this disc. It feels like a concert, well-paced and varied, with Kaeshammer bringing out all his party tricks. It's also his most mainstream disc, with songs here that will tickle the fancy of Buble fans, as the jazzman shows he can pop it up on the potential hits A Little Bit Of Love and The You-And-Me.
Kaeshammer's also in excellent voice on this material, which is not something I've really paid too much attention to before. Normally it's been the piano doing the talking, and that's here of course, but the whole package seems to impress me more, probably because the choice of material is uniformly strong, and geared towards showmanship, voice and fingers. He has a playful voice, and with the fun, uptempo tunes here such as Heartbeat (featuring Divine Brown doing the backgrounds), he hits a groove like those 60's sides from Georgie Fame.
My favourite part of his piano work has always been his New Orleans-flavoured numbers, and there are a few of them here, as he does a few roles that would make Allen Toussaint nod in agreement. The slow ballad Shalamar Wind, a duet with frequent tour partner Jill Barber, lets him take an emotional solo in the middle, but the real piano showcase comes in the middle of the disc, on his version of the Curtis Mayfield classic People Get Ready. As a good jazzman knows, you don't always have to sing, sometimes your fingers can do a well-known melody justice, and here he nails it, just as he does live at most of his shows, as the song has been a concert highlight for awhile. This feels like a major release for Kaeshammer.