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Friday, October 22, 2010
Bruce Katz: Live! at the Firefly
Bruce Katz and company wade deep into territory where few present-day jazz bands dare go: the blues. More precise would be to say that other jazzers don't feel like they need to go waist deep in this essential music form. For a jazz organ trio to roll out a slow blues or early boogie number would seem a no-brainer. You know, something to keep the crowd on the dance floor. Recorded at The Firefly Club in Ann Arbor Live! at the Firefly (Brown Dog Music) showcases the band at their live best with Katz at the piano and organ. When they launch into Mingus' "Better Get it In Your Soul" there can be no mistaking the sign out front that night said 'jazz band.' This might be a good time to point out the word soul; the Bruce Katz band has that in abundance. Not since Jimmy Smith has an organ-led trio ventured forth with such passion and skill. The beauty of the soulful feeling shows up clear as day on "The Blue Lamp." Superb guitarist Chris Vitarello sounds uncannily like Duane Allman on "Jump Start"; elsewhere reminiscent of Larry Carlton. Up the middle, Ralph Rosen on drums and Rod Carey on bass are about are good as a 1-2 as you can find. "Crew of Two" sounds a lot like the fine work Katz did with Ronnie Earl on The Color of Love. Speaking of the boogie number, "Norton's Boogie" is one hand-clappin' foot-shufflin' gem not to miss.
The Bruce Katz Band (MySpace) appears at the Livery in Benton Harbor on Oct 22.