Michael Kaeshammer - Piano Boogie Sensation - A Review
Casting a Spell
A review by Rosemary Phillip
(Originally published in the Grand Forks Gazette, 2001)
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,
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
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
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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