Kaeshammer Returns to Jazz East
He remembers being a young boy in his family home and listening to his father tickling the ivories.“As far back as I can remember, I have an image of him playing the piano, ” Michael Kaeshammer said. “There was always jazz music in our house.”
But, growing up in a small town in Germany, he never considered becoming a professional musician— people just didn’t do that.
“Making a living playing music wasn’t an option, ”he said. It wasn’t until Kaeshammer moved to Vancouver Island as a teenager, that he really considered pursuing music as a career. “I saw all these guys playing for $50 a night … and I thought, ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’”
Kaeshammer is now one of those guys, and will be in Halifax on Saturday performing at Casino Nova Scotia. He is appearing as part of JazzEast’s fourth annual fundraising gala and silent auction.
The musician has a long history with JazzEast; he credits the festival with being one of the first to support his musical career. Today, Kaeshammer is considered one of Canada’s foremost jazz musicians, having recorded his first album, Blue Keys, when he was 18.
“That got the ball rolling,” the 30-year-old said. He credits being a classicallytrained pianist with making him a better musician. “By the time I got listening to records, I wasn’t thinking about technique,” he said. “I was thinking about playing along with the record.”
For aspiring musicians living on Vancouver Island, like Kaeshammer, playing a show in a city was a major step forward. He shopped Blue Keys around as a demo tape to help him get paying gigs, but that all changed whenit started getting radio play and became a hit.
Kaeshammer said he believes that young musicians should first be classically trained, so that they will have proper understanding of basic musical principles later in their career. Many young musicians, he added, develop a love-hate relationship with their instrument and with music in general. While they want to learn to play, they hate what their music teacher is asking them to learn.
Still, he has noticed a number of those classic instruments — piano, cello, violin — are being heard in today’spopular music through the use of samples and electronic sounds. This makes him think the future of instrumental music is secure.
“Anything that gets young kids interested in music is great,” he said. Kaeshammer’s advice to aspiringmusicians is simple: be passionate for music.