Wandering around the stage, crawling through the crowd, and musically battling his drummer, Michael Kaeshammer brought an undeniable energy to Fredericton’s Playhouse as part of this year’s Spotlight Series. 


This latest performance is certainly not Fredericton’s first taste of Kaeshammer, as he has jumped around the stage many times for the city’s Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.




The most striking thing about Kaeshammer’s performance—other than his musical mastery of the piano—is his undeniable confidence on stage. Spinning yarns and making fun of the crowd are all part of the experience as Kaeshammer bobbed through an improvised performance. 


However, Kaeshammer is only a quarter of the show with his accompanying band composed of a bassist, saxophonist, and drummer—all of which held their own through the blistering performance. Kaeshammer opened the night by declaring:


“I left my voice in Moncton last night.”


Kaeshammer assured the audience that, due to his forgetful nature, they would receive a set so new that not even the band knew what was next—before spontaneously calling out a “New Orleans Tune in F.”


Not to be outdone, Kaeshammer’s drummer—Jeff—responded with gumption and the night continued without pause.


Perhaps the thing that made Kaeshammer’s performance so engaging was his, and his band’s, masterful use of dynamics. The band shifted from high-energy jazz standards like “Caravan” to slower tunes and conversations with the crowd. 


A particular highlight of the night was when some audience members arrived late in between songs, to which Kaeshammer candidly asked:


“How come you’re late?”


There was a quick moment of good-spirited banter between performer and viewer; between the next two songs, a separate group of late viewers arrived to sit in the same row. This prompted Kaeshammer to stage an intervention for the whole row, and a good deal of laughter from everyone involved followed. 


Furthermore, Kaeshammer, upon introducing his band, pointed out that his bassist had come straight from Hamburg, Germany that week to play with him. As such, he had never seen Fredericton. When asked what he thought of the city he replied:

“It’s nice, there’s lots of water and churches—just like Hamburg.”


Which elicited more laughter from the crowd. 


Clearly playing to his Maritimer audience, Kaeshammer proceeded a ballad about bad pianos with a jab at Western Canada. Kaeshammer lamented the fact that being a touring pianist he has to play a lot of bad pianos—prompted by how good the Playhouse’s piano is—after which he confided that:


“For some reason, all the bad ones are in Alberta.” 


After assuring the audience that he was joking, he continued with the night.


In short, Kaeshammer’s energy and engaging performance makes him a must-see on the jazz circuit and a performer to earmark if you see him on next year’s Harvest Jazz and Blues roster. 


And that’s jazz.