Live In Concert
The classically trained pianist Michael Kaeshammer grew up in Germany. At a young age he also developed an interest in the boogie-woogie and stride piano of Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis and Pete Johnson. In the mid-1990’s he and his family moved to Canada where he began playing festivals. He released his first album “Blue Keyes” in 1996. Kaeshammer has been the opening act for both Ray Charles and Allen Toussaint; and has also backed Marva Wright, the blues queen of New Orleans. His last album, his tenth, was “Something New” also on Linus Entertainment. Kaeshammer is a six-time Juno Jazz Award nominee winning the “Vocal Jazz Album of the Year” award in 2008. “Live in Concert” is the audio portion of “Boogie On The Blues Highway” which first aired on American Public Television in March 2020. This soon to be released DVD was recorded at The Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney, British Columbia. Kaeshammer effortlessly weaves classical, jazz, blues, boogie-woogie and pop influences into his own unique sound.
Kaeshammer, piano, fender rhodes, and vocals; is accompanied by a fabulous rhythm section. Canadian born bassist David Piltch was a former member of Blood, Sweat and Tears and recorded with them in 1980. Piltch also recorded with Allen Toussaint, Solomon Burke, Aaron Neville, The Holmes Brothers, Bonnie Raitt and countless others. New Orleans born drummer Johnny Vidacovich has played with Johnny Adams, Professor Longhair, James Booker, Mose Allison, Stanton Moore. George Porter Jr, and many more. The horn section consists of fellow Canadians William Sperandei, trumpet; William Carn, trombone; and Steve Hilliam, tenor saxophone. The background singers include Amoy Levy, and Nicole Sinclair who steps out front to take the lead on one song. Special guests include Colin James, Curtis Salgado and Randy Bachman.
Six songs are written by Kaeshammer and his writing partner John Goodwin. Kaeshammer opens with “Boogie Woogie” the forty second teaser that sets the stage for the remainder of the performance. “Kisses in Zanzibar” is a fan favorite as it’s reprised from his 2011 studio album and we get to hear Kaeshammer’s beautiful voice and the horns. “I Know I Will Again” is another vocal with a great horn arrangement. “Lucky Man” is a new song and a preview from Kaeshammer’s upcoming studio album. “Who Are You” features a vocal from Colin James. Curtis Salgado sings and plays harmonica on “Do You Believe”, the horns once again completing the production. “Broken Down Piano” is solely by Kaeshammer.
Selected covers include “A Change is Gonna Come” written and recorded by Sam Cooke in 1964; the lead vocal is sung by Sinclair. “Taking Care of Business” by Randy Bachman first appeared on 1973’s Bachman-Turner Overdrive II; featured are special guests Bachman and James. “Shoo-Ra” is from Allen Toussaint and features Kaeshammer’s infectious vocal and the backing singers. “Hamp’s Boogie” a.k.a. “Hamp’s Boogie-Woogie” was a 1944 instrumental, by Milt Buckner and Lionel Hampton, that reached #1 on the R n’ B charts and remained there for six weeks; the chorus features the lyric “Hey bop a re-bop” that was incorporated into future tunes by other artists.
The blues community is still getting to know Kaeshammer who is undoubtedly a major talent. Better check out this performance.