Bruce Katz review…July 22, 2019….

BRUCE KATZ

SOLO RIDE

AMERICAN SHOWPLACE MUSIC  ASM 7766

DOWN AT THE BARRELHOUSE–CRESCENT CRAWL–IT HURTS ME TOO–PRAISE HOUSE–RED SNEAKERS–DREAMS OF YESTERDAY–MIDNIGHT PLANS–EASY LIVING–GOING PLACES–THE WAY TO YOUR HEART–WATERMELON THUMP–REDEMPTION

Piano master Bruce Katz took home the 2019 Blues Music Award for Best Acoustic Album this past May down in Memphis, and is positioning himself to do it again next year. His latest album for American Showplace Music is not only his tenth overall, but is his first truly solo performance–no vocals, no backing players, just the man and his piano.  It is aptly-titled “Solo Ride,” and features eleven originals and one cover, and is a unique fusion of blues, jazz, gospel, classical, and country.

As one absorbs these performances, Bruce’s ability to convey a musical message thru just his keys is evident.  Witness the set’s lone cover, Tampa Red’s “It Hurts Me Too.”  Bruce captures the lovelorn spirit of the original with some cool left-hand artistry.  Speaking of capturing a feeling, Bruce hits it outta the park on two gospel-influenced numbers, “Praise House,” and “Redemption.”  Here, the cascading flurries of notes echo the hallelujahs of the congregation!

We loved the whole set, but picked some favorites.  “Crescent Crawl” is just that–it takes you down to South Rampart and Canal with its nods to Dr. John, and a tasty shout-out that astute listeners will pick up on from Huey “Piano” Smith, about mid-song.  Bruce’s stride and boogie-woogie works are exemplary, also.  Bruce’s daughter gave him a pair of “Red Sneakers,” and the original he wrote echoes perfectly the ragtime era.  “Down At The Barrelhouse” is strong left-hand boogie, and perhaps is a nod to Barrelhouse Chuck, and, both Pinetops, Mr. Smith and Mr. Perkins.

The most beautiful piece on the program is Bruce’s take on classic country.  Aside from being the final three words of Don Gibson’s legendary “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Dreams Of Yesterday” is peaceful, serene, and ethereal in its essence and powerful in its presentation.

On “Solo Ride,” Bruce Katz becomes the “Picasso of the Piano.”  Each song is a blank canvas, and Bruce paints vivid images in song thru just his incredible skills.  Bruce, we love you, man!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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