Tag Archives: CD

“SWEET MAN”: BOB PORTER REMEMBERS DICK KATZ

I know Bob Porter as a jazz scholar, record producer, radio broadcaster — and fine writer.  Here’s his recent piece on the much-missed Dick Katz, reprinted with permission from Bob’s website, where you’ll find many rare records for sale in his auctions, “JAZZ ETC.” (http://www.jazzetc.net):

For much of the 1980s, I was a Governor of the New York NARAS chapter. One of the fringe benefits of such a position was the opportunity to hang out with and make friends with fellow Govs, in this case musicians such as Pepper Adams, Mel Lewis, Helen Merrill, Gerry Mulligan and Dick Katz. George Simon and Dan Morgenstern were also involved so there was a lot of jazz knowledge on our panel.

Together we schemed to get as much recognition as possible for jazz. One year we even managed to get Pepper, who was nominated for a Grammy, to appear on the TV show! On the other hand, we worked, to no avail, to get some relief for Woody Herman from his oppressive tax burden. I got a chance to do a record with Pepper and another with Katz, records that probably would not have been made were it not for the monthly NARAS Governors meetings.

The Pepper Adams album was entitled”Urban Dreams” and featured Jimmy Rowles on piano. It was the only time I ever worked with Rowles but I managed to pick up two or three great stories from him and I’m still living off those stories after all these years. When Pepper discovered that the budget was all inclusive and that what was left, after all the other costs were covered, went to him, he knocked that album out in about two and a half hours!

The Katz album was one of three I did for Jim Neumann and his Beehive label. Neumann was one of great LP collectors of the twentieth century (his collection was recently donated to Oberlin). A successful businessman, Jim always wanted to run things his way and the record business was a challenge. It wasn’t easy for him to run his business in Chicago and make records in New York. I suggested Junior Mance to him, knowing that Neumann was ready to record almost any good jazz player with Windy City roots. We did a mostly quartet date with Junior’s working trio and David Newman added. In another conversation with Jim, I suggested Dick Katz.

Through our monthly meetings and the conversations that ensued, I found Katz to be extremely well versed on pianists. He knew Teddy Wilson, his original inspiration, but he knew Monk’s music far better than most. He had a slim discography but one that had quality as its recurring theme. Every time I heard him play, I was impressed, thinking that lots of people were sleeping on his talent. And he wrote about jazz with authority. Add to all that was the fact that he was truly a caring human being, one sweet man.

The Dick Katz album was part trio, part quintet. It was taped in May of 1984 with Jimmy Knepper and Frank Wess as our horns. Marc Johnson and Al Harewood provided the rhythm. Dick prepared well in advance of the session. “A Few Bars For Basie”, written to honor the recent passing of Count Basie, was the only tune featuring Wess on tenor, everything else featured his flute. I remember thinking at the end of the date that Katz was very well represented on the album. His choice of material was exemplary, his trio playing elegant and he seemed to get everything possible from the quintet. The album was titled, “In High Profile” (Bee Hive 7016). The album was issued on LP but when I asked about CD, Neumann showed no enthusiasm.

After the expiration of our NARAS Governor terms, I would encounter Dick Katz occasionally, playing with Roy Eldridge , in a meeting of some sort, once at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The conversations were always brief but always contained a reference to “In High Profile” and the question of when it might be issued on CD. To me, he referred to the album as his personal favorite.

The last time I saw him, perhaps five years ago, a different attitude showed up. Beehive had been gone for a long time and the only music from the label that had appeared on CD was the Johnny Hartman material used on ‘The Bridges of Madison County” soundtrack. Neumann still held his masters but wasn’t doing any deals to get the music to CD. Katz said to me, “I never should have made that album for Beehive.”

For many years, I held to the belief that because the record industry had supplied much of my living for a long time that I should abide by their rules. Thus, I had resisted burning vinyl to CD-thinking that in time, the labels would get around to what I wanted. Well some of them, namely Beehive, never got around to it. When Dick Katz died in November last year, there were obituaries that discussed his career in considerable detail. Not once was “In High Profile” mentioned. Because it wasn’t on CD, it didn’t exist.

Well it exists on CD in my collection now. I burned it and sent a check to The Jazz Foundation of America in his memory. Dick Katz, writer, teacher, pianist, friend of mine. One sweet man.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL RECORD STORE . . . OR OPEN ONE!

This Saturday, April 17, is Independent Record Store Day worldwide. 

Many’s the happy hour I spent in Record World, Tower Records, Dayton’s, Happy Tunes, and more . . . perusing, considering, talking, hanging out, pouncing on something I’d never seen, wondering whether to spend twenty dollars (1972 dollars!) for BUCK MEETS RUBY or EASY NOW.  I grew up in suburbia, where every department store had a record section.  Those days are mostly gone, although I live near enough to Mr. Cheapo’s to visit, and Academy Records and Second Hand Rose still offer New York thrills. 

But here’s novelist Nick Hornby’s commentary, very much to the point:

“Yes, yes, I know it’s easier to download music, and probably cheaper.  But what’s playing on your favourite download store when you walk into it?  Nothing.  Who are you going to meet in there?  Nobody.  Where are the notice boards offering flat shares and vacant slots in bands destined for superstardom?  Who’s going to tell you to stop listening to that and start listening to this?  Go ahead and save yourself a couple of quid.  The saving will cost you a career, a set of cool friends, musical taste and, eventually, your soul.  Record stores can’t save your life.  But they can give you a better one.”

I would disagree only with Hornby’s understatement: I think record stores did save my life, or, at least, they helped me find something that has continues to make me very happy. 

And he is also correct about the social context: a Jiffy bag with a CD from Amazon through the mail is a great thing, and I am delighted to receive one, but it just isn’t the same as visually eavesdropping on what the fellow in the next browser is looking at or (one afternoon in Dayton’s) getting yelled at my the cashier for making an insufficiently reverent remark about the late Bud Powell record he was playing.  Yesterdays, oh, yesterdays!

Thanks to Jim Eigo of Jazz Promo Services for Hornby’s exhortation.

I FOUND A MILLION-DOLLAR BABY

 cdI bought a jazz CD this morning.  For anyone who knows me or has intuited something about my life from this blog, that should hardly be worthy of comment. 

The prize CD — which I found out about because of John Herr’s recommendation — features Matthias Seuffert, Rossano Sportiello, Harry Allen, and Anthony Howe.  Three of those musicians are players I revere, and if Howe, a drummer, is part of their company, I’d take it on faith that he swings.  The title is “SWINGIN’ DUO BY THE LAGO,” and it comes from Styx Records.   

The disc itself, however, isn’t the reason for this post.  I bought the disc through CD Baby (wittily titled) and late in the evening I got this automated response, which made me laugh so hard that it is worth a purchase in itself.  This message — happily over-the-top to be sure– is the way to treat customers!  Check their website out for yourselves.   

cd-baby1

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.   A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.  Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.  We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Saturday, January 24th.  I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby.  We sure did.  Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year.”  We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Sigh…

CD Baby
the little store with the best new independent music 

http://cdbaby.com cdbaby@cdbaby.com (503)595-3000