Get Your Groove! (American Showplace Music) could serve as the unplanned finale to an unintended trilogy. It follows 2014’s Homecoming and 2016’s Out From The Center, framing a musical documentary of Bruce Katz’s life and his vision of a living music called “blues.” These are blues of introspection and joy, lilting with nuance, and swinging with vigor. The album sings the gospel of those blues, testifying the news is good indeed. Perhaps that’s why this is the most azure of Bruce’s offerings, and that brightness is a refreshing levity.
Katz’s trio is refreshed as well. New drummer Ray Hangen slots agreeably between the keyboard master and long-time vocalist/guitarist Chris Vitarello, and the core three are augmented on several cuts by old friend Jai “Jaimoe” Johanson’s guest drumming, and session bassist Matt Raymond. Their evolution is apparent; never have they had so much to say, with so little to prove. Yet, they prove much – of themselves, of their sound – and find themselves speaking in care of those whose own voices have grown dim, or gone homeward.
The mostly-instrumental set finds Vitarello in exceptional form, never overplaying or taking uncomplimentary angles, and serving as a deserving foil for the singular Katz. Alike in his service to the greater song, Jaimoe’s presence resounds on ‘Freight Train” and “Shine Together (Tribe of Lights)”: the former a four-movement encomium to fallen Brother Butch Trucks, and named after the band Trucks invited Katz and Vitarello to share; the latter features Johanson and Hangen enjoying extended dualities over the Meters-like NOLA grooves.
A particular, lovely atmosphere descends when Katz moves to the acoustic piano. The reinvented BKB favorite “Beef Jerky” recalls mid-60s Memphis glory, while “River’s Blues” is rich in evocation of when rock rolled free of anchors like boundaries and expectations. And perhaps that’s the most refreshing part of these efforts – they sail past any sense of the arbitrarily “blue,” but do so out of respect and love, just as the most masterful always have.