Bruce Katz won the 2019
BMA for Best Acoustic Album for his
contributions to Journeys To The Heart Of The
Blues with Joe Louis Walker and Giles
Robson. The talented keyboardist recently
released Solo Ride (American Showplace
Music), a stunning set of 12 solo acoustic piano
instrumentals that range from blues to jazz to
classical, gospel, and country.
The opener, “Down At The
Barrelhouse,” is a lively Windy City boogie, while
“Crescent Crawl” ventures into New Orleans, paying
tribute to Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, and Huey
“Piano” Smith (mixing in a snippet of “Rockin’
Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu”). “It Hurts Me
Too,” the old Tampa Red classic, gets a wonderful
interpretation. The stirring “Praise House” mixes
gospel atmosphere with jazz influences, and the
upbeat “Red Sneakers” has a ragtime feel. “Dreams Of
Yesterday” is an achingly beautiful country waltz.
“Midnight Plans” skillfully mixes
soul, blues and jazz, the mellow “Easy Living” has a
relaxing vibe, and “Going Places” rolls like a house
afire. “The Way To Your Heart” is an after-hours
blues/jazz ballad that flows gracefully, while the
playful “Watermelon Stomp” is a delightful shuffle.
The adventurous closer, “Redemption,” revisits the
gospel/jazz structure most effectively.
If you’ve listened to the blues over
the past few decades, you’ve more than likely heard
Bruce Katz playing keyboards in support of other
artists. Though Solo Ride is his tenth
release, it’s actually the first where the spotlight
is completely focused on him. Let’s hope that it
won’t be the last.
--- Graham Clarke