Bruce Katz review…September 4, 2016…

THE BRUCE KATZ BAND

FEATURING CHRIS VITARELLO

OUT FROM THE CENTER

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM  7330

DON’T FEEL SO GOOD TODAY–SCHNAPPS MAN–THE STRUGGLE INSIDE–BLUES FROM HIGH POINT MOUNTAIN–OUT FROM THE CENTER (HIPPIE TUNE)–ALL TORN UP–BESSIE’S BOUNCE–DIS-FUNKSHUNAL–ANOTHER SHOW–THINK FAST–YOU GOT IT

Bruce Katz is a four-time Blues Music Award nominee for the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year , and spent fourteen years as an Associate Professor at the Berklee School Of Music, so he knows his way around a keyboard!  He’s played on countless records for many of the greats, including Delbert, Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, and many others.

He is a fine bandleader in his own right, and his latest CD for American Showplace Music is entitled “Out From The Center.”  It’s eleven band originals that branch out into what Bruce himself calls “the wide world of blues.”  So, fans are treated to plenty of blues, boogie, soul,  funk, and jazz, and even some “jam-band” songs, offshoots from the time Bruce spent playing with Gregg Allman.

With Bruce’s other albums,  Chris Vitarello was not nearly as active as he is on this one, but he’s all over this one, on vocals, guitar, and writing some of the material.  Joining Bruce and Chris are Ralph Rosen on drums, Jimmy Bennett on lap steel, and Peter Bennett on bass for five cuts.  Bruce handles the bass duties on the other six cuts!

Check out the spacey funk of the “Schnapps Man,” with Bruce and Chris trading off each other with one blistering solo after another!  The title cut is aptly-subtitled “The Hippie Tune,” and it does take some nice detours into jam-band territory, with Bruce’s B-3 leading the way.  And, Chris busts out his best Jimmy Nolen-inspired scratchin’ licks on a very cool shot of soul-jazz, “Dis Funkshunal!”

We have to admit, we love Bruce playing the straight-up 88’s, and there are several good ‘uns up in here.  “Don’t Feel So Good Today” is jumpin’ boogie-woogie all the way, with Chris on vocal on the story of a lover who “done him wrong!”  Brush-stroked drums add to the laid-back vibe of Bruce’s piano on the last-call swing of “Blues From High Point Mountain,”, and “Bessie’s Bounce” recalls vintage ragtime.

The venerable Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins said it best when describing Bruce Katz–“now, THAT’S a piano player!”  We think you’ll whole-heartedly agree after you get a listen to the Bruce Katz Band and “Out From The Center!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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