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The Bruce Katz Band: Three Feet Off The Ground

Since every post-1960 organist has been mightily influenced by Jimmy Smith, it’s safe to assume that Bruce Katz picked up more than a few licks from the master. On Three Feet Off the Ground (AudioQuest 1056; 57:20), Katz dips into the same soul-jazz bag that Smith helped invent nearly 50 years ago while pushing the envelope in a few different directions with his crack band. Guitarist Julien Kasper brings a Hendrixian presence to the funky opener “Beef Jerky,” then mixes it up in bluesy fashion with guest Duke Robillard on “In the Shadow,” one of two piano offerings on this solid CD. Kasper explodes like a raging Roy Buchanan on the organ shuffle “Wrecking Ball” then relaxes on the slow blues of “Way Down Time,” a beautiful showcase for Katz’s sense of color and nuance on the B-3. Kasper also flaunts some wicked chicken picking on the revved-up countrified title track, another wailing vehicle for Katz, then unleashes some formidable slide chops on “You’re It.” Robillard reappears on the soul-jazz number “Jet Lag,” and the band lays down an authentic second line groove on “Key to the City.” This is one grooving, swinging outfit, capable of plenty of fireworks along the way.

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