Kaeshammer trio teases jazz purists 

Review by Paul Andrew

Not knowing the elementary rudiments of acoustic piano played in the so called boogie woogie style of the Old South took nothing away from Michael Kaeshammer’s incredible performance at the Catholic Community centre Dec. 8, which also featured stand-up bass player Simon Fisk and jazz drummer Damian Graham.

In addition to showcasing numerous sub-genres of jazz, blues, Dixieland, South American and eventually some boogie woogie, Kaeshammer also played what sounded like trip hop. In the end, it was an alternative piano session that was witnessed by a sold-out room set up in a pseudo cabaret setting.

For some reason Kaeshammer opted to perform without the stage normally supplied by the church for the Whistler Community Arts Council’s Showcase 2000/2001 series. But he did use its baby grand piano.

If this trio’s performance affected the audience as it did me, a lay-person in jazz terms, then most were isolated by the mesmerizing way Kaeshammer tapped the ivories. For two hours and one encore brought on by a standing ovation, this young trio seamlessly moved through style and time, from old jazz/blues standards to present day original compositions.

Mind you, his constant time-signature shifts and key changes made you shake your head and wonder how this guy, and his band, can pull off this sophisticated music with such ease.

And Kaeshammer’s vocals were a delightful surprise. At 23 years old, he is an extremely savvy performer who joked his way into and out of instrumentals a seasoned veteran might stumble through. Kaeshammer’s vocals are high so he takes advantage of that, and for some reason it is conducive to humour.

A few moments dragged and the inconsistency of the styles may have kept a few people’s brains whirring with wonder at what the heck Kaeshammer would do next. But we all walked away from the show knowing at least one thing. There is no limit to Kaeshammer’s talent. Indeed, at 23, he is a virtuoso.

Additional kudos go to Graham with his micro-jazz drum kit. Both he and Fisk had the space to solo, and Graham put on a clinic, at times using his elbow to vary the acoustics on his snare drum.

All in all, the Michael Kaeshammer trio will no-doubt perform to a larger audience if and when they swing through the Whistler Valley again.

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