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The Bruce Katz Band

The Bruce Katz Band - Live! At The Firefly - 2008 - Brown Dog Records

"Led by the critically acclaimed pianist and Hammond B-3 organist Bruce Katz, the Bruce Katz Band plays unique instrumental music that explores many aspects of American roots styles while never losing its blues spirit and feeling. This powerful four-piece band blends guitar and B-3 organ into a sound that is modern and yet traditional at its core. ''Live! At The Firefly'' is the band's sixth CD and finest album yet. The twelve-song live album is performed by the regular touring members of the band. It is evident from hearing the explosive musical dynamics on this album that this is a group of musicians who has developed its own sound from playing together for a long time. Eleven of the tunes are originals, eight being brand-new and 3 fan favorites."

How could I forget! February 16, 2009 I know it's February 16th but I've just gotta add one more to my Best of 2008 list (Hey...we're on Big Joe Time here!) The Bruce Katz Band Live at The Firefly This one cooks from beginning to end with one great groove after another. Simply stated Bruce Katz is one of the smokinest organ/piano players you will ever hear. The tunes all original save for one well chosen Mingus cover are taut and insistent, the arrangements fresh, taking you to unexpected places, and the players are en fuego, weighing in with one tasty lick after another, with special recognition going to our friend and sometime bandmate, the wonderful guitarist Chris Vitarello. If you like the B-3 jazz/blues vibe (and who doesn't?) this one is an absolute no brainer! © http://bigjoefitz.com/news_blog.php

Though Bruce Katz is widely known for the cerebral jazz delights he cooks up, it’s commanding the nasty B-3 at the lowdown greasy blues joint on the other side of the tracks that thrills him. Katz doesn’t just play the B-3: He charbroils blues like a short order cook workin’ the grill. Shuffle to any tune and Katz’s B-3 wails with huge vibrato chords which ebb and flow with massive volume as either the song’s foundation, or as the smoldering main course. Katz’s history features five previous records as leader, and more than 60 records on which he has appeared as a valued sideman - including his five-year stint as Ronnie Earl’s musical foil in the Broadcasters. Supported by his veteran rhythm section of former Broadcaster bassman Rod Carey, and Ralph Rosen, Katz’s drummer since 1995, Katz has all he needs to take the keyboards off road whenever he feels. But the addition of the band’s newest member, guitarist Chris Vitarello, intensifies the ensemble’s inventions. The night begins with Katz heatin’ the B-3 keys to white hot intensity on “Deep Pockets,” and Charlie Mingus’ “Better Get In Your Soul.” Both adhere to the jazz tradition where you state the head, then follow your inspiration. Too many new blues ventures are centered on wailing guitar solos and offer no balance with the instruments. However, Katz and his band are skillful enough to keep every listener continually surprised. The seven-plus minutes of slow, twisting piano blues on “The Blue Light” has Vitarello coaxing blue tones a la Earl, while Katz schools the audience in blues piano history. By song’s end strings and keys are in perfect synch. The other slow blues, “Marshall County,” offers the band’s intense appreciation for the spirituality within their music. On “Southern Route,” Katz’s cascading waterfall piano notes roll and flow down the Big Muddy until they reach the Crescent City, where they morph into James Booker meets Fess on Rampart Street. The follow-up calls the band back for “Bugged Out,” a funky, acid jazz featuring Katz’s torrid B-3 journeys around Vitarello’s pinpoint guitar work. Every piano player owns a boogie woogie in his bag and “Northons Boogie” frees Katz and Vitarello in a rollicking, back and forth blowout. The night ends with two standouts: “Victoria” is a sultry, applause filled performance anchored by Carey’s and Rosen’s solid foundation; “Brother Stevie,” featuring the organ guitar music popular in Texas ballrooms in the 1950s, is Katz’s tribute to his manager, Steve Langbein. These two nights, recorded last April at Ann Arbor’s Firefly Club, hit the musical jackpot. By & © Art Tipaldi January 2009 http://www.bostonblues.com/features.php?key=cdKatz-Live

Bruce Katz has performed on over 60 CDs, toured with many legendary blues, soul and jazz artists, including Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, David "Fathead" Newman, Joe Louis Walker, and Big Mama Thornton. This album by Bruce and his band was recorded at The Firefly club in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the 4th and 5th April 2008. It's a truly outstanding all instrumental album of blues, roots, jazz and soul. While the individual performances are all brilliant, the album excels as a group effort, each song relating a story with layers of depth and melody. The album is VHR by A.O.O.F.C. Buy Bruce's superb "Crescent Crawl" album, and support genuine music. Bruce's "Three Feet Off The Ground" album is on this blog, however RS are up to their usual tricks, and DL'ing "Three Feet Off The Ground" may require a little "investigating". Hint: Right click on link. Save shortcut which should be the full URL. Google the rest! [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 145 Mb]


1. Deep Pockets
2. Better Get It In Your Soul
3. The Blue Lamp
4. Jump Start
5. Ice Cream Man
6. Southern Route
7. Bugged Out
8. Marshall County
9. Crew Of Two
10. Norton's Boogie
11. Victoria
12. Brother Steve

All tracks composed by Bruce Katz except "Better Get It In Your Soul" by Charles Mingus, and "Jump Start" by Bruce Katz & Chris Vitarello


Chris Vitarello - Guitar
Rod Carey - Bass
Bruce Katz - Piano, Organ
Ralph Rosen - Drums


Rarely does a musician display brilliant dexterity, coupled with sparks of creativity, equally in both blues and jazz. One such rare bird is Bruce Katz, who not only meets these characteristics, but excels in his understanding of the genres and unleashes the strongest assets of each. Best known as a member of Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters, Katz took up music at age five when he outperformed his sister at the classical pieces she was assigned for piano lessons. Discovering classic jazz and a Bessie Smith record planted the seeds of a passion for jazz and blues. In the early '80s his first major supporting gig was Big Mama Thornton; he then worked and toured with Barrence Whitfield & the Savages, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Witherspoon, Johnny Adams, and Tiger Okoshi. Burned out from life on the road, he enrolled at New England Conservatory, earning a master's degree in jazz. Five months after graduation, Katz met Ronnie Earl, who hired him. During his nearly five-year stint with Earl, Katz performed on six CDs, and also co-wrote songs with Earl, including "The Colour of Love," "Ice Cream Man," and "Hippology." In 1992 Katz debuted his first solo album, Crescent Crawl, then released Transformation the following year. Just before the release of Mississippi Moan, Katz left the Broadcasters to concentrate further on his solo career. His album roster includes 1993's Transformation, 1997's Mississippi Moan, 2000's Three Feet to the Ground, 2004's Deeper Blue, and 2008's Live! At the Firefly. Katz has also been a member of Gregg Allman's group, and has toured as pianist with the Allman Brothers Band. In addition to performing and recording, Katz teaches piano and is an associate professor at the Berklee College of Music, where he taught the school's first ever in-depth blues course. © Char Ham © 2012 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/bruce-katz-p10929/biography


Bruce Katz is honored to be a 2008, 2009 and 2010 Nominee for the Blues Music Award (W.C. Handy Award) for "Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year", selected by the Blues Foundation of Memphis, TN. While Blues is a very important part of his music, Bruce's music has more angles and influences, occupying a unique space where blues, "soul-jazz", jam-band rock, and all aspects of Americana Music collide into a style of original music all his own. He is equally comfortable playing Hammond B-3 Organ and Piano. Besides leading the Bruce Katz Band, Bruce is currently a member of the Gregg Allman Band, and plays regularly with John Hammond and other artists as well. Over the past twenty five years, Bruce has been an in-demand sideman as well as leading his own band. He has played and recorded with many of the leading names in blues and roots music, appearing on over 60 albums with artists such as Ronnie Earl, John Hammond, Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker, Little Milton, Maria Muldaur, Jimmy Witherspoon, Eric Mingus, Paul Rishell, Mighty Sam McClain, Debbie Davies, David “Fathead” Newman and many others. Bruce has performed at festivals world-wide, including the North Sea Jazz Festival, Edinburgh Blues and Jazz Festival, Glastonbury Festival, Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, Boston Globe Jazz Festival, Nice Jazz Festival, Notodden Blues Festival and many, many others. Bruce has a lengthy background in classical piano. After hearing a Bessie Smith record when he was 10 years old, he started teaching himself blues and early jazz on the piano. He then heard boogie-woogie and swing music and continued his musical journey into more aspects of jazz and American roots music. Bruce attended Berklee College of Music in the mid-1970s, studying Composition and performance. For the next fifteen years, he performed with many of the leading musicians in New England, and played “on the road” for long stretches of time. After a particularly long stint of touring in the late '80s with Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, he decided to come off the road and enrolled at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he earned a Master's degree in Jazz Performance and studied with Geri Allen, Paul Bley, Cecil McBee and George Russell. It was during this time that he conceived of and started writing music that became the Bruce Katz Band. Five months after graduation, he met Ronnie Earl, who soon invited him to join his band, The Broadcasters. During his nearly five-year stint with Earl, Katz toured the world and performed on six albums, writing and co-writing many of the tunes, such as "The Colour of Love," "Ice Cream Man," and "Hippology." The album “Grateful Heart” (Bullseye) won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Best Blues Album of 1996. In 1992, Katz debuted his first solo album, "Crescent Crawl", on the AudioQuest label. He released "Transformation" the following year. Just before the release of "Mississippi Moan", his third solo album, Katz left the Broadcasters to concentrate on a solo career. At that point, the Bruce Katz Band began touring the U.S. and Europe, and has been his primary focus. Bruce’s 2008 CD, “Live! At the Firefly" (Brown Dog Music/Vizztone) , was received with critical acclaim. The new CD rose to #11 on the National Living Blues Radio Chart, and received substantial play on XM/Sirius Satellite Radio Bruce has also been the subject of a recent feature story in Blues Revue magazine as well as reviews and features in Jazz Times, Downbeat and many major international blues and jazz magazines. In addition to performing, Katz teaches piano, Hammond organ and theory at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and teaches the first ever in-depth blues history/analysis course there as well. He also conducts Master Classes in Hammond B3 and Blues History, which he has done at various music festivals worldwide. Formerly from Boston, Bruce has been based in Woodstock, NY since 2005. The Bruce Katz Band maintains an active touring schedule throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. © http://www.brucekatzband.com/bruce.html

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