"Kaeshammer" - 2011
“Always be yourself, first and foremost…. As an artist, it’s all about finding who you are as a person and relating that in your music”.
Inviting – infectious - upbeat. Canadian pianist/singer/songwriter/bandleader Michael Kaeshammer is back with a rousing new album. Moving swiftly along from his previous effort („Lovelight“, 2009), the German-born and Canadian-bred Kaeshammer now presents a mostly self-penned ten-song-collection, providing a stirring new chapter in his discography. An immense talent now fully formed, Kaeshammer is bridging jazz, pop and r’n’b, moving swiftly onward on his journey. It’s a playful and nimble-footed approach featuring a shimmering variety of influences from New Orleans R’n’B to a great selection of jazz, blues and pop stylings. It’s an album that radiates the charm of a born entertainer and the strength of a thoroughbred musician while Kaeshammer is once again performing with virtuoso skills and youthful energy throughout the album. Nothing new? Wait a minute…
What’s new with Michael Kaeshammer is a more personal dimension in his writing. At first his songs might come across as easygoing, but they are born from the realization that personal expression is central to musical identity and artistic integrity. Communication of emotion is also what it’s about for Kaeshammer, but German “weltschmerz” is not part of the deal here. The confident Canadian seems to favor a piece of jazz wisdom invented by Cole Porter: “Accentuate The Positive". And that’s because Kaeshammer considers himself a lucky fellow. This is what he says about his new approach: „The happy-on-life feeling having only intensified over the previous few years, the material on this album is purely what is on my mind and heart. Lyrically this is me at my most vulnerable, musically it's some of the most fun I've had playing the piano and singing. That's where the idea to self-title the album comes from…. You certainly work on your career, but it doesn’t affect who I am any more….I’m a happier person than I’ve ever been. I just wake up every morning and I just can’t wait for my day.”
And so „Kaeshammer“ presents us with ten new tracks, harking back to a glorious era of recorded music when an album made a nice musical statement in less than forty minutes. It’s a back-to-basics approach. Each song works as a separate musical statement, at the same time making sense in a larger context as well.
Michael Kaeshammer was born in Offenburg/Germany in 1977. To this day, his father is a jazz buff with tastes ranging from Fats Waller to Art Tatum and onwards. Consequently, the young piano prodigy was presented with some of the all-time greats of American jazz early on, with both parents acting as mentors and supporters. American-style jazz, blues and r’n’b turned into his forte and when the family left Germany for a new life in Canada, 18-year-old Michael made rapid progress. Even today, Kaeshammer considers the musical education and influence provided by his parents to be the most valuable asset he has ever had in his artistic life or otherwise.
Today Michael Kaeshammer’s attitude towards music is marked by openness. He’s more than a jazzman. Pop, gospel and blues are part of the musical equation. Kaeshammer is a guy who is not about categories, he privately enjoys playing gospel piano and follows what’s going on in the pop world. That’s what happens when you’re a Beatles fan early on… But while artists like Harry Connick Jr. and Jamie Cullum have successfully provided memorable jazz, r’n’b and pop fusions in recent years, Kaeshammer is not aiming for the kind of pop success that compromises his art. He’s first and foremost a serious player who is still attracted to the musical world of New Orleans. This is where he got to play with idols like Art Neville and Eddie Bo. It’s a place where the deep roots and old soul of the music can be felt. In the Crescent City, music simply matters in peoples’ lives. Kaeshammer is more and more recognized as a major talent in this context. He gets to perform from coast to coast in the US more and more.
Michael Kaeshammer’s own „Rendesvouz“ opens the album. A nice invitation to come in and join the parade, the promise of a good time. With wit, charm and nonchalance, Kaeshammer continues with one great performance after another: The second-line syncopation of New Orleans music is never far (“Kisses In Zanzibar”), pop stylings are tuneful („A Little Bit Of Love“, „Remedy“, „The You-And-Me“), jazz is tight („Tightrope“) and ballads are engaging („Shalimar Wind“), with a dynamic version of Curtis Mayfield’s classic „People Get Ready“ as a special tribute. These are performances delivered by a group of friends, having a ball and working hard. Some special guests from Canada are included in the vocal department: the gospel stylings of The Sojourners, soul diva Divine Brown, folk talent Jill Barber. A good time was had by all. You can hear it.
But the spotlight is being firmly claimed by the handsome guy at the piano. To be a guest in his musical world means to forget about the worries of everyday life, to remember the classic qualities of American jazz entertainment. Kaeshammer is not a proponent of swing nostalgia, but the joy communicated in his music harks back to an era when people knew how to enjoy life by delving deep into music.
So hopefully Michael Kaeshammer and his audience will be riding a common groove with this cool offering from the artist and his fabulously talented cohorts. And while Kaeshammer loves his band and the people he works with, he also and most certainly loves his audience: „The way you interact with people helps you on a personal level as well“, he says, „you eventually reach a certain point where everything’s muscle-memory and it becomes more about the person you are rather than what you’re playing. It kind of switches after a while.“ To follow Kaeshammer’s joyful ride and his musical progress on this new album is a great pleasure for everyone with open hearts and inquiring minds.