American Showplace Music
Featuring a trio of superb artists and a a few great guest artists, Katz returns to the studio to present us this album. He spent a good number of years on the road with John Hammond (who is featured here on a pair of tunes), Gregg Allman, Delbert McClinton and others and now offers us a baker’s dozen mostly original cuts of some really great stuff. Katz is obviously featured on keys, with the B-3 organ as his mainstay along with the piano. Chris Vitarello is on guitar and vocals and Ralph Rosen is on the drums.
The title tracks is a flowing and grooving instrumental that opens the album nicely. Katz lays out some nice stuff as Vitarello and guest Jimmy Bennett offer some slick slide and lead guitar work. Randy Ciarlante sings and plays drums on the next cut, “King of Decatur.” This one is a N’awlins style tune with a nice groove and jiving lyric. It swings along and then Katz nails a cool piano solo in the midst of it. The close with the two guitars and B-3s is a great build up and finish to the song. Katz gives us some honky-tonk piano on “Santa Fe Blues,” a Lightnin’ Hopkins tune. Hammond appears here and carries the tune along with Bruce tinkling the keys so well in support Mart Ballou appears on acoustic bass which adds a little depth to the backing. “No Brainer” is just the three band members in a swinging instrumental that is jazzy and upbeat. The big B3 sound blazes a path for us to follow and the guitar work is also impeccable and smooth.
Katz returns to the piano for “Amelia” where he and the boys add Peter Bennett on electric bass to give us a lovely ride for about six minutes as they trade piano and guitar licks along with the bass and drums laying out the groove for us. “Wild About You Baby” is a big boogie and nice cover with driving guitar piano and with the vocals gruff and a little distorted for effect. It’s a rocking little number that gets your foot tapping (at a minimum!). Next is “The Czar” where Ciarlante returns on drums and Bennett on guitar. Katz plays some more jazz inspired B3 as the rest lay out a big and driving instrumental. Lery Carr’s “Blues Before Sunrise” features Hammond again and here we get some sweet, slow blues to savor.
“Time Flies” returns us to the jazzy instrumental mode with a very up tempo an driving tune. Vitarello rocks on the guitar and Katz swings on the B3. “The Sky’s the Limit” gives us the core trio in a traditional and original swing blues. Vitarello wrote this one (he also co-authored the fourth track). It’s very Duke Robillard-styled until Katz lets loose in a major way on B3. On “Just an Expression” Chris offers up some funky guitar and Katz and Rosen follow with another swinging instrumental. These guys are addictive! “Won’t Last Till Tuesday” is a darker, mid tempo sort of jazz and blues with soulful guitar and somewhat mellower B-3 work. The CD closes to “It’s a Bad Time,” a bouncy cut where Bennett returns to play and sing. Katz fills the middle with a big B-3 solo and the songs drives along well.
Katz always produces well crafted songs and album and this one is another in that mold. Catchy, jazzy instrumentals, driving beats and amazing work on the keys, especially the B-3 Organ. He’s got a couple of great guitar players supporting him here and the band is very tight. If you like grooving, jazzy blues with a New Orleans flair done up right, Katz is your man. He takes what he learned at Berklee College of Music (both as a student and then later on the staff for many years) and his time on the road with the Broadcasters and all the music greats he’s toured with to produce great music here. I loved the album!