Upbeat, life-affirming music reflects celebrated pianist’s vision of the world

It’s no accident that Michael Kaeshammer’s boogie-woogie piano music has upbeat, life-affirming vibe.

Canadian pianist Michael Kaeshammer appears at Sylvan Lake’s Jazz at the Lake Festival on Friday.

Canadian pianist Michael Kaeshammer appears at Sylvan Lake’s Jazz at the Lake Festival on Friday.

It’s no accident that Michael Kaeshammer’s boogie-woogie piano music has upbeat, life-affirming vibe.

“Most of my songs are about where I’m at in my life. And things are going well right now. I’m super happy,” said Kaeshammer.

But he wasn’t always that way.

The 34-year-old German-born Canadian has had to overcome a funk that settled upon him when he became fed up with touring about six years ago. “At the time, I was letting my career affect my happiness and my life,” recalled Kaeshammer, who performs with his trio on Friday at Sylvan Lake’s Jazz at the Lake Festival.

“I’ve since come to realize that happiness is about the people around me. Being with the person I have in my life is important,” he said, referring to his girlfriend, “and so is just writing and playing music, and listening to someone else’s music. . . . ”

By rejigging his priorities, he said his life and career have fallen into place. “I tour more than ever now but I do it the right way,” taking time to appreciate day-to-day things — even if they are just nice restaurant meals or a fine hotel room.

While composing, Kaeshammer said he’s “inspired by love, happiness and living in the moment.”

His tunes loosely fit under the jazz umbrella but in some ways, the singer/songwriter wishes they didn’t. A lot of people associate jazz with soul-less elevator music, said Kaeshammer, who admitted “there’s a lot of jazz I don’t like” — including music without passion, or with “15-minute sax solos . . . I don’t see the purpose in it. It becomes an ego trip.”

He believes his songs more closely resemble what jazz was when it was the music of the day in New Orleans or Kansas City. “It’s more boogie-woogie and the blues, but it has jazz influences in it.”

Whatever it is, Kaeshammer’s music has won him a lot of accolades.

The singer/pianist best known for the songs On a Saturday Night from the album No Strings Attached, Comes Love from Strut and Cinnamon Sun from Days Like These, has accrued four Juno Award nominations, as well as two Smooth Jazz Awards and three West Coast Music Awards in the last decade.

Awards are “cool,” said Kaeshammer, but he writes music mainly for himself. He believes “stream of consciousness” writing can be as therapeutic as logging into a journal. “It’s something in you and you have to get it out, whether you talk to someone or write music.”

The native of Offenburg, Germany, only formally studied classical piano for six years before his father introduced him to the ragtime, boogie-woogie and stride piano played by Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Pinetop Smith and Fats Waller.

This music proved to be a revelation and precluded any thoughts Kaeshammer might have had about studying music in university.

“Learning jazz in the classroom never made any sense to me.

“The whole point is to find yourself and your own voice,” he said.

The teenager played in clubs and concert halls around Germany before emigrating to Canada’s West Coast with his brother at age 18. Their parents followed a year later.

The now Toronto-based pianist knew what to expect, since he’d been coming to Vancouver Island almost every summer to visit relatives. Canada is a much more laid-back country than Germany, said Kaeshammer, which suits him perfectly, since he loves audience interaction, including shouts and cheers during concerts.

“I’m a bit of a goof and I get pretty hyper on stage. I have fun and I talk a lot,” said the pianist, who hates the stuffy, formal vibe of some concerts.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. concert at the Alliance Church, at 4404 47th Ave. in Sylvan Lake, are $35. They are available from www.jazzatthelake.com.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Mountain Cree Traditional Band headquarters in Mirror, Alta. has been the target of theft and vandalism. (Photo submitted)
Vandals attack: Artifacts worth $1M gone from central Alberta museum

AWNTB says not enough been done to deter crime in Mirror, Alta.

Eleven more Albertans die from COVID-19

There were 739 people in hospital, 120 in ICU on Monday

Red Deer city transit will return to full capacity this weekend. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Red Deer Transit increasing frequency of buses beginning Wednesday

Many routes will run on 30-minute intervals

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services. File photo by Advocate staff
Man critical of wife’s treatment at Red Deer hospital

An Alberta man says the recent treatment of his wife at the… Continue reading

Lacombe is looking at its options for reclaiming sewage lagoons that are no longer needed. Vesta Energy Ltd. has signed a deal to use three lagoons to store water for fracking.
Map from City of Lacombe
Energy company to use former Lacombe sewage lagoons to store fracking water

Vesta Energy Ltd. will pay Lacombe more than $100,000 a year in 20-year deal

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Blanchet’s choice to block critics on Twitter limits free speech: experts

OTTAWA — Dozens of people say Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet has… Continue reading

Jimmy Melvin Jr. is escorted from Nova Scotia provincial court in Halifax on Monday, July 20, 2015. One of the most notorious crime figures in Nova Scotia has been declared a dangerous offender. Melvin Jr. was handed an indeterminate sentence today in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
‘Real and present danger’: Nova Scotia crime figure deemed dangerous offender

HALIFAX — One of the most notorious crime figures in Nova Scotia… Continue reading

In this April 13, 2020, photo provided by TC Energy, construction contractors for TC Energy are seen installing a section of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline at the U.S.-Canada border north of Glasgow, Mont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-TC Energy via AP
An outright ‘No’: Biden’s Day 1 Keystone XL kibosh bodes ill for Canada-U.S. ties

WASHINGTON — North America’s perennial pipeline debate erupted anew Monday as president-elect… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier Francois Legault leave a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Provinces delaying or revisiting vaccine programs as Pfizer delays dose deliveries

OTTAWA — At least three provinces are now temporarily delaying or pausing… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Kenney says killing Keystone sets risky precedent, puts Alberta on hook for US$1B

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says cancelling the Keystone XL expansion… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
Family: Enjoying this year’s postcard-perfect winter

COVID is still here complete with all the spinoffs each and everyone… Continue reading

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford / John Cairns)
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of… Continue reading

Most Read