Album Reviews

Bruce Katz – Homecoming

Artist:     Bruce Katz

Album:     Homecoming

Label:     American Showplace

Release Date:     11/11/2014

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“There are so many different styles in there, I wasn’t sure if it would all fit together but somehow I think it came together pretty well,” said Bruce Katz about his seventh album as a leader and his debut on the New Jersey based American Showplace label.  It takes a master craftsman like Bruce to marry the styles of Elmore James, Leroy Carr, New Orleans funk, and Jimmy Smith soul-jazz into one coherent listen as Katz does here.  “It’s all blues as far as I’m concerned,” he says.

Bruce Katz is a musician’s musician, highly sought after as evidenced by his playing on over 60 albums as a sideman.  He’s played with artists from Big Mama Thornton to Jimmy Witherspoon and has logged time in Ronnie Earl’s Broadcasters, The Gregg Allman Band, and his on-going gigs with Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band and the CKS Band (Scott Sharrad, Randy Ciarlante).  Katz’s versatility is often breathtaking as he delivers rollicking B3 solos right-handed while pounding out the bass lines with his left hand; or in some cases playing the piano with his right as he uses his left on the B3.  He gets great support from his two bandmates: guitarist/vocalist Chris Vitarella and drummer Ralph Rosen.   Having recently seen them live at Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem, PA, I can certainly attest to their remarkable tightness as a unit.

Katz augments his stellar band by sprinkling n some tasty guest appearances.  John Hammond is aboard for LIghtnin’ Hopkins’ “Sante Fe Blues” and Carr’s “Blues Before Sunrise.  Ciarlante sings his penned New Orleans funky tune “King of Decatur”. Guitarist Jimmy Bennett from the Alexis P. Suter Band adds his axe to five tracks and sings on the Elmore James tune “Wild About You Baby” and his own, “It’s a Bad Time”, the album’s closer.  This album is both a showcase for an extraordinary keyboard player and a   dazzling presentation of soul-driven blues and jazz.

– Jim Hynes

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