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Michael Kaeshammer: Kaeshammer

Christopher Loudon reviews Michael Kaeshammer's self-titled 7th release

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Though this is the Canadian pianist and vocalist’s seventh album, it is appropriate that it is the first given an eponymous title-for this is undistilled, back-to-basics Michael Kaeshammer, doing what he does and loves best: digging into the roots of jazz and R&B, playing infectious boogie-woogie and stride piano, and generally having a recklessly good time.

Though the German-born Kaeshammer divides his time between Toronto, Vancouver and New York, you’d be forgiven for mistaking him for a native New Orleanian whose playing is equal parts Albert Ammons and Professor Longhair and whose voice blends the cool sophistication of Harry Connick Jr. with a jigger or two of Dr. John grit. Kaeshammer blasts out of the gate with “Rendezvous,” a rollicking come-to-the-party celebration of new love, and maintains the intense heat through the sizzling “Zanzibar” and passionate “Tightrope.” His “The You-and-Me” has a delectable pop fizz licked by blazing horns, and “Heartbeat” recalls the tight yet wild abandon of Atlantic-era Ray Charles. “Love Me or Leave Me,” one of only two covers, is taken midtempo and superbly reimagined as a plea driven by barely contained sexual hunger.

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