Bruce Katz, the Hammond B3 and piano legend based in Woodstock, released his latest album, Out from the Center, on September 16. The album, released by American Showplace Music, features Katz’s longtime bandmates Ralph Rosen on drums and Chris Vitarella on guitar and vocals. All three members contributed songs to the effort, with Vitarella receiving a special “featuring” mention for his significant presence throughout.
The aptly named title track literally sits at the midpoint of the album, but is also it’s centerpiece, it’s highlight, and the gravitational center that pulls the rest of the tunes together. The name is apt also for the feeling actual song itself, with its extended deep dive into swirling organ and languid psychedelic guitar jams, it’s certainly moving ‘out from the center’. If the intent wasn’t quite clear, maybe the parenthetical title “Hippie Tune” will drive the point home a little better. This is the blues through the filter of the Allman Brothers, which makes sense given that Katz has served as sideman for Gregg Allman, Jaimoe and Butch Trucks.
The surrounding tracks, revolving around it’s jamming core (out from the center), hew closer to the traditional blues. Though, what is your traditional blues? Katz explores them all, in a journey across the blues landscape. From Southern rock to Texan boogie-woogie to St Louis style to New Orleans funk, no lonely avenues are left untravelled. Each style is played impeccably across 11 all-original tunes. These blues aren’t really all that blue though, the music is light and joyful, more of an escape from the doldrums than an excuse to stay there. The album cover’s bright purples, yellows and oranges speak perfectly to the product inside.
Key Tracks: Blues From High Point Mountain, Out from the Center, Dis-Funkshunal