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May 2002

Michael Kaeshammer
No Strings Attached
Alma Records

Audiences went wild for Harry Connick Jr.'s piano swingings in the early '90s, with the coming of the still-popular When Harry Met Sally... movie soundtrack. If there's any justice in the music world, the next gifted retro-pianist, Michael Kaeshammer, will find a high-profile vehicle to bring his uncanny boogie-woogie play to the masses. The 23-year-old Canadian's emotive, blues-heavy style rags, rolls and romps through the wonderful No Strings Attached (Alma, ACD 10202; 59:35). Kaeshammer (pronounced "case-hammer") tackles a full range here, from the sacred, gospel-blues of "Drown in My Own Tears" and Delta pulse of "Fish This Week, but Next Week Chitlins" to blissful workouts of uberclassics like Joplin's immortal "Maple Leaf Rag." The pianist also offers a range of impressive, genre-fluent originals, from the dramatic right-hand rags of "Nora's Boogie," supported by a gaggle of crushing drums and congas for a tune that moves, to the pounding, jazzy energy-punching-through "West Broadway." And I haven't even mentioned master collaborators like Big Joe Duskin, who growls through an earthy "Dusty's Blues" and more. Check it out.

Originally published in May 2002
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