Philip Catherine has been on the forefront of the European jazz scene since the sixties. He has worked with great artists like Lou Bennett, Billy Brooks, Edgar Bateman, John Lee, Gerry Brown, Jean Luc Ponty, Larry Coryell, Alphonse Mouzon, Charlie Mariano, Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen, Kenny Drew, Dexter Gordon, Toots Thielemans, Stéphane Grappelli, Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Tom Harrell, the rock group Focus. 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.

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Philip Catherine was born in London in 1942. Coming from a musical family (his grandfather was first violin with the London Symphony Orchestra), he developed a musical ear from an early age. He took up the guitar after having heard George Brassens, and then started listening to all the great jazzmen of the period. Very soon he had the opportunity to meet some of them, and often play with them when they were performing in Belgium where his family had moved to by then.
A chronicle of events: In 1961, he started touring Europe with “Lou Bennett”, who introduced Philip to drummers like Oliver Jackson, Billy Brooks, Edgar Bateman. Late in 1970 Philip recorded his first album in his name as a leader “Stream” produced by the French guitarist and singer Sacha Distel. From 1971 and for 18 months, Philip was a member of the Jean-Luc Ponty quintet with Joachim Kuhn on piano. In 1972 he attended a twelve week summer course at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. During this period he had the opportunity to meet in Boston John Scofield, and, outside the school, musicians like Ran Blake, George Benson. He also studied with George Russell and Mick Goodrick. In 1973, Philip went into Big Band as he took up an engagement to play in West-Berlin with Paul Kuhn and his Orchestra (SFB), which gave him a chance to work with the likes of Ake Person, Leo Wright and other great musicians. In 1974 Philip recorded the first “Pork Pie” album “Transitory”, with Charlie Mariano, Jasper Van’t Hof, Aldo Romano, Jean-François Jenny-Clarck. During the same year Philip started working with Palle Mikkelborg in Denmark and played on an album with Karin Krog. In 1974 his second album “September Man” came out, on which Philip assigned a very important part of the project to the composing skills of Palle Mikkelborg. The rhythm section was made up of John Lee Gerry, Brown and Jasper Van’t Hof with Charlie Mariano on the front line. In 1975, he recorded “Guitars”, an album with many guitar overdubs. In the rhythm section again John Lee and Gerry Brown, with Charlie Mariano on some tracks. It was produced by Marc Moulin. Soon Jazz lovers all over the world not only discovered a brilliant guitarist, but also a talented composer. Some of his compositions like “Homecomings” and “Nairam” have become popular (Robert Wyatt recorded Nairam years later on his album “Shleep” by changing the title to Maryan). During the same year Philip recorded a few album for Steeple Chase in Denmark. One was a Dexter Gordon CD “Something Different” with Billy Higgins on drums, Niels Pedersen on bass and no piano.The piano part was left to Philip’s guitar. This album was highly rated in Down Beat magazine.. Another CD was recorded with Kenny Drew’s trio including Niels Pedersen on bass.. And furthermore, two albums were recorded under Niels Henning Perdersen name, one called “Jay Walking” with Billy Higgins on drums and the other “Double Bass” with Sam Jones plus Higgins and Albert Heath on percussion. In 1975 the record company WEA organised a record “Doldinger Jubilee” and a tour with the Klaus Doldinger “Passport” with prestigious guests. Among them the blues guitar player Buddy Guy, Les Mc Cann and Johnny Griffin, In 1976 Larry Coryell and Philip started working and touring together as an acoustic guitar duo in many parts of the world. The idea of putting them together originated from John Lee and Gerry Brown and also the combined efforts of Claude Nobs,George Grunz and Siggy Loch, They recorded two famous albums:Twin House & Splendid. At the end of the seventies Philip was invited to join the Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen trio, with Billy Hart on drums, to perform on many tours of Scandinavia and Continental Europe and to record a double album “Live at Montmartre” Copenhagen Jazz Club for the Steeple Chase label. In 1977, Philip was asked to play in a Charlie Mingus album by Mingu’s producer Ilhan Mimaroglu. For Philip it was quite a privilege to get so close to one of his heroes. After the recording Charlie Mingus asked Philip many questions on how he had learned this music. It was an opportunity to talk about Charlie Mariano. Philip was very impressed by the whole session and there was some panic as well !! In the liner notes of the album “Three or Four Shades of Blues” Mingus named Philip: “Young Django”. (Philip thinks now that it would be more appropriate to be called “Old Django”!!. (Django died at the age of 43! While Philip today is over sixty). In 1977 Philip recorded in New York with the Band of Larry Coryel and Alphonse Mouzon “Back Together Again”. They toured in USA summer 77 and in Europe 77 and 78. Another trio was formed in the late seventies with John Lee, on electric bass and Gerry Brown, on drums. John Lee, who later joined McCoy Tyner and Dizzy Gillespie, who incidentally became later George Benson’s and Stevie Wonder’s drummer..This trio enjoyed a great success in Europe, but unfortunately it was not recorded. A further trio was formed with Jasper Van’ t Hof, and Charlie Mariano. They recorded together “Sleep My Love”. In 1979 Michael Mantler invited Philip near Woodstock, to record an album called “More Movies” produced by Carla Bley. In 1979, Peter Schulze (musical producer at Radio Bremen) calls Philip to make a radio recording in Bremen with overdub guitars.. It is a recording of very inspired music, particularly tunes like ‘Tunnel of Love’ by Michael Gibbs, and ‘Babel’ by Philip himself. The same year Vladimir Cosma, the film score composer, asks Philip to play guitar solo on the movie with Catherine Deneuve and Jean Rocherfort “Courage Fuyons”.This is the beginning of a long collaboration with Vladimir Cosma, who will invite Philip again (as well as the gypsy guitar player “Romane”) to participate in the film score for the movie “Le diner de con”, etc In 1980, Jean Claude Petit, The French composer, arranger, and film score writer, arranged Philip’ s album “Babel” That was recorded during Philip’s contract with WEA Germany. Charles Orieux had the idea to put Philip and Jean-Claude together. The same year, Philip had the chance to play a two week tour with Benny Goodman and a Scandinavian band. There is no recording. In 1981 Philip put together a band with two guitars, percussion and saxophone. With Trilok Gurtu (percussions), Nicolas Fiszman (guitar and electric bass) and Charlie Mariano (sax). They recorded the album “End of August”. Also done during Philip’s contract with WEA GermanyIn 1981 Philip meets for the first time Chet Baker for three or four gigs. It was the German agent Gaby Kleinschmidt’s idea. Philip will meet Chet again later. In 1983, Philips tours with Aldo Romano on drums and Jean-Louis Rassinfosse bass. End of 1983, first recording with Chet Baker. and Jean Louis Rassinfosse. In 1984 a trio with Didier Lockwood, Christian Escoudé and Philip was formed. This trio performed as a working unit for the whole of 1984 and recorded on Jean-Marie Salhani’s JMS label in Paris.1985 will be the year of Philip with Chet Baker. From January to November they tour all over Europe, mostly with the Belgian bass player Jean-Louis Rassinfosse. Later in the year the Italian bass player Riccardo Del Fra joined the trio. At the end of 1985 Philip starts a trio with Hein Van de Geyn on bass and Aldo Romano on drums. They record together “Transparence” in 1986 (on which two additional guests: Michel Herr on synthetisers and Diederik Wissels on piano), followed by “September Sky”, and “Oscar” (an album dedicated to Philip’s father). At this point,1990, the musical encounter with Tom Harrell takes place. The album “I Remember You” and the two volumes of “Moods, vol. I” & “Moods, vol. II” (in 1992) are the result of this collaboration with Tom Harrell that includes Hein Van de Geyn. It has been Jerry Teekens, Criss Cross records, to put Tom Harrell and Philip together, to the great joy of Philip. In 1991 Philip is invited in another small combination. The regretted french saxophone player Barney Wilen’s (sax) trio with Palle Danielson on bass. They record “Sanctuary” for IDA records in Paris. In 1992 Philip had the privilege to tour Europe in duo with Miroslav Vitous and later in trio with Miroslav and Enrico Rava. In 1993, Philip is invited to record with the Turkish guitar player Erkan Ogur a few tracks on Erkan’s album. Peter Schulze of Radio Bremen was active in organizing this meeting. Incidentally, Philip loves working with Peter Schulze as a producer. In 1996 Quartett Live was recorded in Holland. Cees Schrama,radio and record producer, and Heyn Van de Geyn, very much to Philip’s immense gratitude, had the idea to introduce him to the wonderful Dutch piano player Bert Van den Brink. In 1997 Philip Catherine signed with Dreyfus Records. His first album on this label – simply called “Live” (being the very first live recording of his career) has been highly acclaimed by the international press (4-star rating by ‘Down Beat’, “best album of the year” by Jazz Nu ; and other publications..). In 1997 Aziza Mustapha Zadeh invites Philip to play a couple of tunes on her album called “Jazziza”. It is a Russian bass player on a visit to Brussels the year before who encouraged Philip to come and listen to Aziza. That’s how the meeting with Aziza came about. In 1998 “Guitar Groove” followed (with Jim Beard on piano and keyboards, Alphonso Johnson on bass and Rodney Holmes on drums), featuring twelve superb compositions by Philip and a beautiful rendering of “Stardust”. The album got impressive radio airplay in the US and it broke quite exceptional for a European jazz record into the top 20 of the Gavin Jazz Chart where it stayed for several months. The following CD “Blue Prince” (nov 2000) received very enthusiastic acclaim from the press: “Record of the Year”, by ‘JazzMan’ and was selected among the best albums of the year by many magazines and newspapers. In 2001 Philip has the chance to be invited by Challenge records (Holland) to record an album with Enrico Pieranunzi, Heyn Van de Geyn and Joe Labarbera.The album is called “Alone Together”. In 2001 Marc Moulin invites Philip to join in an exciting project called “Top Secret”. “Summer Night” (Dreyfus, 2002) – in trio/quartet with Philippe Aerts on bass, Joost van Schaik on drums, and Bert Joris on trumpet – contains six new compositions, a beautiful re-take of ‘Janet’ and six standards. It shows again that Philip Catherine may be counted among the great jazz artists of our time. In 2003 Philip Catherine has mainly performed with his “guitar, bass and drum trio”, with Philippe Aerts on Bass, and Joost Van Schaik on drums. A format he particularly likes as it gives him the rhythm support as well as freedom to unfold his wide palette of musical styles from that irresistible groovy rock sound to the broad lyrical phrases of which he is a master. Philip has played in the most prestigious concert halls, from the Berlin Philharmonic to Carnegie Hall, from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam to the Olympia and Salle Pleyel in Paris and the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Brussels. However, he still loves to play in jazz clubs. Philip Catherine has received many awards, among others: the “BIRD” Prize (1990), together with Stan Getz, at the North Sea Festival; the “Django D’Or” (1998) in Paris for ‘Best European Jazz Artist’; the ZAMU ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ (2001) a” from the Antwerp Conservatory (a title assigned in previous years to highly reputed artists like Jos van Immerseel, Sigiswald Kuijken and Toots Thielemans). The success of his appearances with some leading European big bands, and in recent years also more frequently with chamber orchestra’s, have revealed that his lyrical compositions are particularly appropriate for arrangements for larger ensembles. This lead to the collaboration with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra (BJO), and in april 2005 Philip Catherine’ ‘album “Meeting Colours”? (Dreyfus) was released, with superb arrangements of his music for guitar and big band by trumpetplayer/arranger Bert Joris. Recorded in January together with theBJO, who are the favorite band of great musicians like Kenny Werner, Maria Schneider and who were the first european band to be elected in the 2004 Downbeat Critics Poll. In 2006 Philip Catherine participated on the album “Passage” of the group Soledad, dedicated to the music of composer Frédéric Devreese (among others famous for his filmscores for André Delvaux, Hankar, etc) and released on EMI/Virgin Classics, which received great acclaim in the press. That same year he also gave some concerts in duo with the french guitarist Sylvain Luc. It turned out to be a magic encounter and the two artists decided to work together on a regular basis. Philip Catherine’s regular touring band remains his Trio which is very much appreciated by any kind of public (the jazz fans, the young “standing audiences”, the more classical public, etc..), a formula he particularly likes as it gives him the rhythmic support as well as freedom to unfold his wide palette of musical styles – from that irresistible groovy rock sound to the broad lyrical phrases of which he is a master. In 2007, parallel to his tours with his trio, quartet and collaborations with Soledad, Sylvain Luc, sympyhonic orchestra’s etcetera, Philip Catherine prepared a new guitar solo program. The beauty of his compositions really stands out in these arrangements. Philip, surrounded by his guitars and his pedal-rack, fascinates his audience and gets great response. His latest cd “Guitars Two”, the first solo album of his carreer, was released in 2008 on Dreyfus Jazz and is hailed in the international press as one of his best albums. In April 2010 a new album “Live at Cap Breton” will be released on Dreyfus Jazz, of an exceptional concert together with an all-star line-up: Enrico Pieranunzi (p), Hein Van de Geyn (b), Joe LaBarbera (dr). … Photo: © Jacky Lepage

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