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Michael Kaeshammer - Piano Boogie Sensation - A Review

Casting a Spell

A review by Rosemary Phillip
(Originally published in the Grand Forks Gazette, 2001)

Michael Kaeshammer

If anyone was dozing at the beginning of Michael Kaeshammer's electrifying performance last Tuesday evening at the GFSS auditorium they didn't doze for long. From the moment he walked out on stage with his trio, Simon Fisk on double bass, and Damian Graham on drums, Kaeshammer tested our hearing for sensitivity as he moved from the most delicate tinkering of the ivories on the grand piano to dazzling speed of motion while his hands flew from one end of the key board to the other, flourishing chords at a rate so fast it was hard to see where his hands were actually going. And he never seemed to miss a note.

That was boogie, real boogie that had toes tapping, knees bouncing up and down, and bodies ready to jump up in the aisles to swing. What a treat, not just audible treat, but whole body reaction and get-up-and-go energy treat.

Kaeshammer has style, with class. From the moment he placed his fingers on the key board the audience was captivated. He masterfully held their attention as he went from one rhythm to another, bouncing off his trio with precision and delicacy through boogie, jazz, and rhythm and blues.

"Thanks for showing up," he commented with a grin after the first two numbers. "It's a warm night and you don't have to be here."

The audience loved him. The humour was touching.

He introduced his trio and the first two numbers, "Swanee River Boogie" and "Booker" and before the audience had a chance to breathe his fingers were already moving around on the keyboard leading into another piece, seductively caressing the notes, into a slow dance rhythm full of passion. While using his forehead to move the microphone away from his face he let rip into the music and was gone, the piano becoming an extension of his creative energy.

And he loved to fool the audience. A pause, a response from the bass and drums much like an intimate conversation, then another pause. Ears were pricked to awareness, as silence was followed by the quietest of sounds of each instrument talking to each other. It was smooth! The audience was forced to listen, humourously, as the trio moved through their transitions.

All three musicians demonstrated impeccable timing in their weaving of melody from one to the other. Fisk was at-one with his double bass as he caressed the strings during his solos. Graham amazed us with the many variations of percussive sound that can be produced by a simple drum kit. And what rhythm! Kaeshammer, not limited to the black and white keys of the piano, occasionally extended his arms and played the strings inside. They were having fun! And the audience responded with whoops and applause.

Kaeshammer even sang a couple of songs with very catchy and amusing lyrics, such as "Gotta girl, looks like a kangaroo."

Before intermission he asked," Enjoying yourself so far?" At which point the audience burst into more whoops and applause. "Just checking. There's things in the lobby; coffee, tea, cookies, and," he paused and added with a big grin, "CDs."
Intermission was rather long, no doubt due to the large audience, and the long line-ups for goodies, and CDs. When the second half of the show began Kaeshammer asked, "How was your break?"

Someone from the audience yelled back, "Too long!"

Kaeshammer's fingers were already tinkering the next piece and away the trio went again featuring "On a Rainy Day," (dedicated to the city of Vancouver) and "Honky Tonk Train Blues."

It was a very relaxed program, as only jazz and boogie can be. And, as Kaeshammer pulled the mic towards his mouth to begin an introduction his fingers were often already into the next piece, and, commentaries forgotten, he took off into the music and pushed the mic back again with his forehead.

"But shouldn't reviews also criticize?" this reviewer has been asked. "Reviews shouldn't always be just praise and good comments."

Well, this reviewer could find nothing to criticize in this show, except that more commentary will help the audience know what is being played.

It's evident that Kaeshammer and the piano and music are one. And like many such musicians, he could most probably play all night. The show ended with a great burst of energy and the audience was instantly standing, calling for an encore.

Kaeshammer returned to the stage alone, and dedicated the last piece to Gary Gilbert (Grand Fork's Dr. Fun) for his birthday. Somewhere in the piece we could recognize "Happy Birthday To You." It was a great way to end the show.

Kaeshammer certainly cast a spell.

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Copyright Rosemary Phillips, Quills Quotes & Notes Enterprises, 2013
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