American Showplace Music
Classical Jazz from Rock & Roll’s Coolest Piano-Man
As is my won’t, I never read the Press Release before I play an album as I don’t want to prejudge my thoughts on the music.
WOAH…..WOAH …….. and thrice WOAH!
I wasn’t prepared in the slightest for what I heard here.
I was well over a minute into opening track Crescent Crawl when I got to thinking, “When’s he going to sing?”
The answer is ……. NEVER!
Some of my favourite musicians are pianists; but 99% of the time they sing too, or are part of an ensemble cast ……. not so here; acclaimed, multi-award winning and mega-talented Bruce Katz just let’s his fingers (and feet) do the talking, and after thirty years of composing, touring and playing this is his ‘debut solo album’; just him and a grand piano in a studio with brilliant acoustics and no safety net to speak of.
That opening track Crescent Crawl actually prepares you for what is to follow, a slightly New Orleans tinged Jazz piece that somehow sets your heart racing as well as being the perfect mellow accompaniment to a Summer’s evening (or Spring, Fall or Winter too!).
I don’t want to call these tracks ‘tunes’ as they are far more complex, more ‘pieces’ in the Classical sense; with Dreams of Yesterday, Easy Living and Red Sneakers both reminding me of an old Scott Joplin Ragtime LP I had; while the raffish Down at the Barrelhouse and Praise House are straight from a night listening to Professor Longhair, surely?
There’s a beautiful fluidity to Katz’ playing style that is truly unique, albeit with flourishes of Dr. John and Randy Newman here and there; but that’s probably just the pedant in me coming out.
I can’t think of much better, or indeed more thrilling than one night hearing Bruce Katz playing It Hurts Me Too in Hall 1 at Sage Gateshead; but Red Sneakers will be perfect for a night in the Prohibition Bar drinking gin wit my best gal by my side; such is the amazing diversity and dexterity on offer on this album.
Choosing a favourite ‘piece’ has been challenging in itself; but I think I’m finally going for the deeply emotional The Way to Your Heart, which is one part Classical, one part Jazz and one part Heavenly; but the Honky-Tonky finale Watermelon Thump deserves a ‘Highly Rated’ too.
Suffice to say this album has come out of leftfield and has been a challenge at times; but Bruce Katz’ amazing talent won me over and I think that I’m now a fan; and would certainly travel some distance to see him play In Concert.
# If I’d read the Press Release before listening I’d have discovered that Katz has for 30 years or so been the piano player in both Gregg Allman’s band and various Allman/Betts/Trucks offshoots as well as Duke Robillard, Maria Muldaur and friend of RMHQ Mr Ronnie Earl’s band too ….. so yes, I’m correct in letting the music do the talking …… as this don’t sound like none of that!
Released August 16th 2019
#This is the original Bruce Katz Band version of Crescent Crawl ……… but you get the idea.