Fred Katz (cellist)

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This article is about the American musician. For the Australian politician, see Fred Katz.

Frederick Katz (February 25, 1919 – September 7, 2013) was an American cellist and composer.[1] He was among the earliest jazz musicians to establish the cello as a viable improvising solo instrument.[2] Katz has been described in CODA magazine as "the first real jazz cellist."[3] Cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (b. 1962), who recorded a 2002 tribute album to the older musician (A Valentine For Fred Katz, Atavistic Records), praises Katz for introducing his instrument to jazz: "[Katz] managed to find a way to make it swing."[4]

Biography[edit]

Born in New York City,[5] Katz was classically trained. He studied under Pablo Casals and performed with several symphony orchestras.[6] However, Katz is best known as a member of drummer Chico Hamilton's quintet, one of the most important West Coast jazz groups of the 1950s.[7] Hamilton's group, including Katz, appeared in the film noir The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, where Katz was described in passing as the Quintet's primary composer. Katz and Hamilton wrote a score for the film which was ultimately rejected in favor of one by Elmer Bernstein.[8]

Katz also recorded several albums as a leader. Another high point in Katz's career was writing and conducting the arrangements for singer Carmen McRae's 1958 album Carmen For Cool Ones.[9][10]

One of his most recognizable pieces of music was his score for the film A Bucket of Blood, directed by Roger Corman, as the music appeared in a total of seven Corman films, including The Wasp Woman and Creature from the Haunted Sea.[11] According to Mark Thomas McGee, author of Roger Corman: The Best of the Cheap Acts, each time Katz was called upon to write music for Corman, Katz sold the same score as if it were new music.[12]

Later in his career, Katz became a professor of ethnic music in the Anthropology Department at California State University, Fullerton and also at CSU Northridge, where he taught world music, anthropology and religion for over 30 years. He was a longtime Fullerton resident.[13] One of his students was John Densmore, drummer of The Doors.[14]

Katz died on September 7, 2013, in Santa Monica, California.[15][5]

Discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

  • Soul Cello (1957)
  • Fred Katz and Jammers (1958)
  • Folk Songs for Far Out Folk (1958)

As sideman[edit]

With Dorothy Ashby

With Chico Hamilton

  • Chico Hamilton Quintet in Hi Fi (1956)
  • Chico Hamilton Quintet (1957)
  • Gongs East! (1959)

With Carmen McRae

  • Carmen for Cool Ones (1958)

With Ken Nordine

  • Word Jazz (1957)
  • Love Words (1958)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barton, Chris (2013-09-09). "Jazz cellist and educator Fred Katz dies at 94". latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  2. ^ Shepherd, John (2003)Continuum encyclopedia of popular music of the world, Volume II, Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 082646322, page 413.
  3. ^ "Coda Magazine - Google Boeken". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  4. ^ Kalish, Jon. (2007) The 'Far Out' Music of Fred Katz, from NPR Music.
  5. ^ a b Doc Rock. "July to December". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  6. ^ Scott Yanow. "Fred Katz | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  7. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Chico Hamilton: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  8. ^ Butler, David. (2002) Jazz Noir: listening to music from Phantom Lady to The Last Seduction. Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-97301-8, p. 136
  9. ^ Gilbert, Andrew (2011-10-22). "Jazz Departments: Fred Katz: Freak Folk - By Andrew Gilbert — Jazz Articles". Jazztimes.com. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  10. ^ Ken Dryden (1957-12-05). "Carmen for Cool Ones - Carmen McRae | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  11. ^ "Fred Katz filmography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  12. ^ Ray, Fred Olen (1991). The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers As Distributors. McFarland & Company. p. 40. ISBN 0-89950-628-3. 
  13. ^ "Fred Katz". Allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  14. ^ "Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors - John Densmore - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  15. ^ Fox, Margalit (2013-09-12). "Fred Katz, Who Married Cello to Jazz, Dies at 94". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]