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Bruce Katz Band
"Mississippi Moan" CD Review
AudioQuest 1047, 12 tracks, 56 minutes
by Ann Wickstrom
How do you spell class? I spell it K-A-T-Z. This is one of the best CDs I've heard in the last few years. My interest in it was sparked by the fact that Katz has been logging time with Ronnie Earl for the past five years (when it comes to musical heroes, Mr. Earl is my main man). Consequently, I had a hunch I'd like this one, and it has exceeded my expectations.

Mississippi Moan plops all of Katz's influences and styles onto one big platter. It is anchored in the blues but delves into rock, jazz, soul and gospel as well. All but two tracks are instrumentals (Mighty Sam McClain lends his vocals to "Hanging on the Cross" and "I'm Gonna Love You"), and most are Katz compositions. You might recognize the cover of "Compared to What", which was popularized by Les McCann decades ago. But then again, maybe not ...

"Hep-ology" kicks this album off; a funky, jazzy track that also appeared on Ronnie Earl's "Color of Love" CD under a slightly different name, "Hippology." "Jackalope Bar-B-Q", written by guitarist Julien Kasper, would fit under the punk blues category, if there were such a thing. It's fast, frantic, and a lot of fun to listen to. Harp player Mike Costello lends his lungs to three of the tunes here; in fact, you'll find several really neat, perfectly executed piano/harp dual leads.

My favorite track on Mississippi Moan is the last one, "Praise House." Katz' piano runs cascade, tumble, and then steadily build back up into crescendos that bring new meaning to the word dynamics. You can literally feel the anticipation that he worked into this song. What a great finale to a great album.

Even if you're not in the market for a CD right now, dig deep for this one, folks. It's well worth it. Fans of great piano playing will especially love it. Oh - and did I mention he plays a mean B-3?

This review is copyright 1998 by Ann Wickstrom, all rights reserved.

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Copyright 1997, 1998 by Ray M. Stiles. All rights reserved. Copyright 1997, 1998 by Ray M. Stiles. All rights reserved.