Long renowned for his freewheeling stylistic approach that alternates between and weaves together elements of classical, jazz, blues, boogie-woogie and stride, multi-JUNO and WCMA winner Michael Kaeshammer became an international star in part because of his simply stated, genre-busting philosophy: “I just play what I hear and let the music decides what it wants to be.”
Ripe with great possibilities, this aesthetic serves the German born, Canadian based pianist and his dynamic, hard grooving trio (bassist David Piltch, drummer Johnny Vidacovich brilliantly on the aptly titled Warehouse Sessions, which propels Kaeshammer into his second quarter century as a recording artist. Recorded at Bryan Adams’ famed Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, the eclectic, high energy nine track set – which takes us from a funkified, rambunctious romp through Les McCann and Eddie Harris’ “You Got It In Your Soulness” to a whimsical, high-strutting spin through Horace Silver’s “The Preacher” – is the irresistibly raw jazz equivalent of garage rock.
The concept was simply, as the pianist puts it, to “call a tune and then, let’s record it.” No major plan, no overriding concept – just the joy of camaraderie and intuitive chemistry between three jazz masters whose sole intention is to have a blast and showcase their formidable rhythmic and improvisational chops on jazz classics. By including introductory banter (and a countoff on “You Got It…”, the trio allows the listener to feel like a fly on the wall, experiencing the music as it actually happens.
While you can certainly just sit back and enjoy Kaeshammer’s percussive, often hard swinging piano stylings and exciting touches like Vidacovich’s drum solo at the start of “Caravan,” you might want to have Google handy to source some of these gems. You’ll learn, for instance that the slow burning “How Long Blues” reaches back to 1928 and that the gospel infused spiritual “Down By The Riverside” predates the Civil War. They’re just as happy to take us to New Orleans for a plucky march in the second-line classic “Bourbon Street Parade” (1949) as they are to roll into Latin territory for “Quizas Quizas Quizas” and prompt us to dance to the Roaring Twenties chestnut “Ain’t She Sweet.”
Jazz FM91’s Brad Barker said it best about the jubilant vibe of Warehouse Sessions: It’s a group “having so much fun it’s infectious.”