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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dick Katz: Piano & Pen

Dick Katz: Piano & Pen
Supervision: John Lewis
Cover Photo: Lee Friedlander
Cover Design: Marvin Israel
Recording Engineer: Tom Dowd
Atlantic SE 1314

Available from online vendors so I will not be posting a sample. Presented here to share the cover and back cover information.


On Timonium Duologue No. 1, Glad To Be Unhappy & Scrapple From The Apple, the personnel is: Dick Katz, piano; Chuck Wayne, guitar; Joe Benjamin, bass; Connie Kay, drums.

On Aurora, Round Trip, Afternoon In Paris & Ain't Misbehavin', the personnel is: Dick Katz, piano; Jimmy Raney, guitar; Joe Benjamin, bass; Connie Kay, drums.

From the back cover: Dick Katz was born in 1924 in Baltimore where he began to study piano when he was about eight, and became involved with jazz at twelve, partly through the extensive and readily available record collection of his brother Leslie, partly because of the jazz he heard in Baltimore, and, particularly because of the encouragement he received from trumpeter Stanford East.

Dick pursued advanced musical studies at the Peabody Institute, the University of North Carolina, and the Navy School of Music during World War II. In 1950, he graduated from The Manhattan School of Music and then did further work with Teddy Wilson at the Juilliard School – all this while doubling as an active jazzman in Greenwich Village and Fifty-Second Street clubs. A further effort at doubling, working during the day in his father's advertising agency, was eventually abandoned for jazz piano.

Katz chose his associates here with care; first, a jazz guitarist as a contrast and foil to his own piano. He approached Jimmy Raney, "a good maker of lines and musical ideas, one of the very best jazz guitarists". Meanwhile, Katz and Chuck Wayne were both working (separately) at the same club and often found themselves playing together for the fun of it. Connie Kay, the thoroughly musical drummer of The Modern Jazz Quartet, was an obvious choice. "Less obviously", Katz says, "I realized only after we began to play them that several of the scores fit Connie's own conception of time perfectly". Joe Benjamin has played with many great musicians, including Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Sy Oliver and Billy Taylor.

Also from the back cover: This is the first LP to be devoted in its entirety to the several talents of Dick Katz; his compositions, his arrangements and his extended piano solos.

In an era when jazz often is seemingly dominated by musical Angry Young Men, it is refreshing to come across a personality who exhibits selective musical intelligence. This album reflects Dick Katz's concern with unity, taste, selectivity, and the integration of group performance.

He is concerned as are Duke Ellington, Jimmy Giuffre and The Modern Jazz Quartet (among others) with form. "The kind of form I mean", says Katz, "is not confined to groups. Individual players like Miles Davis, Ben Webster and Stan Getz all have it. They select, they know how to edit themselves. The same applies to group players need to talk to each other and communicate musically.

Dick Katz first came before the jazz public playing with Tony Scott and made his first records with that poll-winning clarinetist. There are many who consider these records Tony's finest because in them he achieved the ideals Dick outlined above. Of Tony Scott, Katz says, "The six months that I spent with Tony at Minton's Playhouse were like a school to me, because just about every important jazzman used to come by to sit in from time to time. The experience I got was invaluable."

Katz then went on to work with the highly successful trombone team, J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding. Stints with Stan Getz, Kenny Dorham, Oscar Pettiford, singers Carmen McRae, Helen Merrill and many others followed. Among the people with whom Katz has recorded are Jay and Kai, Sonny Rollins, Oscar Pettiford, Carmen McRae, Al Cohn, Jimmy Raney, Coleman Hawkins and Buck Clayton. He was presented by John Lewis in his first solo LP appearance in four trio performances in the album, "Jazz Piano International" (Atlantic 1287).

Recognition has come to Katz from many quarters, in particular from fellow musicians. Pianist Billy Taylor, writing in "The Saturday Review", paid him the following tribute: "His melodic lines are well though out and even his most swinging passages have a delicacy rarely found in modern jazz – his sensitive improvisations reflect a perceptive and inventive mind". Tupper Saussy, in his comments in the "Jazz Review" on Katz's solos in "Jazz Piano International" called Dick a thoughtful pianist... his predominant appeal is his immaculacy, both melodic and rhythmic'. In reviewing the same record, I said that one heard a basically individual melodic imagination and willingness and ability to reach the materials at hand, rather than impose merely fashionable phrases onto them. – Martin Williams

From Billboard - October 5, 1959: Dick Katz, a new pianist who is gaining notice in critical circles lately, reveals himself as an interesting new talent here. Altho Katz has played with lot of top groups this is his first starring album. On it he show off sensitivity, imagination, and a strong melodic line. And most important his style is sparse and thoughtful, not overblown. With Katz on this set are Chuck Wayne, Jimmy Raney, Joe Benjamin and Connie Kay. Selectons include "Timonium," "Glad To Be Unhappy" and "Afternoon In Paris."

Duologue No. 1
Glad To Be Unhappy
Round Trip
Afternoon In Paris
Ain't Misbehavin'
Scrapple From The Apple


  1. Great to see this here. Thanks, Mark! (Dick Katz is my dad.)

  2. Many thanks, Mark. You've captured a lot.


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