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Philip Catherine

Philip Catherine

BiographyCatherine came from a musical family where his grandfather was first violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra, and he early evolved an ear for music. When he picked up the guitar after listening to the guitar of George Brassens, he began listening to jazz from this period. Soon he got the opportunity to play with some of those musicians when performing in Belgium, where he was residing at the time. Catherine has been at the forefront on the European jazz scene from the 1960s, and he got to work with artists like Lou Bennett, Billy Brooks, Edgar Bateman, John Lee, Gerry Brown, Jean luc Ponty, Larry Coryell, Alphonse Mouzon, Charlie Mariano, Kenny Drew and Tom Harrell, in addition to the those mentioned above. His unique approach and sound, his dedication to music and, above all, the highly emotional lyricism of expression in his playing and in his music, have been important and influential.In the 1960s he was a member of the Jean-Luc Ponty Quintet, and he recorded his debut solo album Stream (1971), produced by the Frenchman Sacha Distel. The album was recorded in 1970 in Paris, and was released in 1971 on Warner Bros. Records. A year later, he collaborated withh John Scofield, Ran Blake, George Benson and other musicians in Boston. In early 1976 Catherine replaced Jan Akkerman in the Dutch rock group Focus and appeared on one album with the band, Focus con Proby, which also featured the American singer P. J. Proby. In the 1980s Catherine played extensively with the Chet Baker Trio and is featured on several of Baker's albums. He also played with Charles Mingus, who named Catherine "Young Django".The All About Jazz critic Ed Kopp in his review of Catherine's album Guitar Groove states: "Guitar Groove is an astoundingly lyrical effort from a guitarist in his prime. It should appeal equally to fans of mainstream jazz and fusion, and to anyone who appreciates superior jazz musicianship". Another All About Jazz critic, John Kelman, in his review of Catherine's 2008 album Guitars Two states:Sometimes it's not a good thing to get branded too early in your career. Called 'the young Django' by Charles Mingus and operating in the same fusion sphere as John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell, Belgian Philip Catherine was pegged in the '70s as a firebrand guitarist, albeit an unabashedly lyrical one. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but Catherine's career, now nearing its sixth decade, has always been about a lot more than powerhouse fusion chops, something Guitars Two demonstrates in spades. Catherine's ability to reference traditional markers from Reinhardt to Wes Montgomery, while sounding like nobody but himself, makes Guitars Two the kind of career high point that ought to dispel the guitarist's early branding. The qualities that established his reputation remain, but are subsumed in a broader approach that makes Guitars Two deserving of a place alongside Pat Metheny's New Chautauqua (ECM, 1979), Bill Frisell's Ghost Town (Nonesuch, 2000) and Joe Pass' '70s Virtuoso series on Pablo', as a pinnacle of what can be done by one man and a handful of guitars".He is considered the grandfather of Belgian jazz as he continues to play on the now very active Belgian jazz scene. He won the first Belgian Golden Django (in 1995) as best French-speaking artist.

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