June 1998

Bruce Katz Band - Mississippi Moan
AudioQuest Music AQ-CD1047
Released: 1997

by Steven Rochlin

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

[Reviewed on CD]OK, so this recording isn't hot, outta-the-box new, yet it's well worth looking for if it's not already in your music stash. Bruce Katz not only uses the killer, now-legendary Hammond B-3 organ, there's great guitar work here too-along with cool harmonica riffs, and of course heaps of good sax (there's nothin' like good sax). Add to all this that none other than Mighty Sam McClain sings on two of the cuts. Forget all that audiophile, watered-down-jazz, put-me-to-sleep, lame stuff, and listen to these AudioQuest kick-butt, turning-goats-milk-into-gasoline jams. Mississippi Moan was recorded direct to two-track tape, and you can really hear how the band is playing together, whereas some multi-tracked stuff sounds like just that-musicians playing their parts yet still distanced from the soul of the music itself. Hey, you want some soul in your roll, some sun on your bum? Well here she be!

From the very first notes of the first song, titled "Hep-ology," you immediately hear the swingin', soulful, jazzy bar-room music that makes you just wanna either start to dance or fist-fight. It's this kind of big-rockin' jazz that I miss so much when anyone says to me, "Try this disc. It's audiophile jazz." "Hanging on the Cross" features good ol' Sam McClain, and as you would expect it's made of the stuff that just puts deep power into the music. As Sam sings here: "I'm hangin' on the cross between heaven and the blues." The blues is heaven! There are some ragin' songs here like "Jackalope Bar-B-Q," and also much mellower songs like "The Prowler." Still others like "Praise House" start out mellow enough with piano, but are then joined by sax, only to explode into what sounds like free-form jams.

AudioQuest did an excellent job capturing the feeling and intensity of the music. Again, this might not be a new release, but if you love soul/jazz/blues/rage-jazz jammin', here's a disc you should snatch up fast. Let's see: You have tasty guitar solos, cool harmonica, great Hammond B-3 playing, Mighty Sam McClain. Only thing missing is a dimly lit bar that smells of stale alcohol and has a sticky floor, dirty bathrooms with writing on the walls, and cold beer.