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The emergence of a gifted jazz musician ensures that the tradition of this great art form is destined to continue well into the 21st century. jonathan katz is such a musician.

Several years ago while touring Japan with the Milt Jackson Quartet I was introduced to an interesting gentleman whose thoughtful, articulate manner displayed a maturity beyond his chronological age. In addition to his mastery of the Japanese language and customs, I soon discovered that his musical prowess was quite expansive.

With the music on this CD, Jonathan displays a strong intellect and sensitivity as well as a range of compositions that are both challenging and accessible to the listener. Jonathan has distinguished himself here with a dynamic rhythm section featuring Peter Washington, arguably the most recorded bassist in contemporary jazz, and Yoron Israel, whose performances with Ahmad Jamal, Joe Lovano and my current group, ICU, have established him as one of the most sought-after drummers of his generation.

The focal point of this trio recital is Jonathan's sparkling performances, choice of selections and clear, well-crafted arrangements. His playing is deeply rooted in the style of Bill Evans, along with the diverse influences of Monty Alexander, Tommy Flanagan, Wynton Kelly, Herbie Hancock and Cedar Walton. His imagination and skills are up to the challenge he's established for himself and the trio -- his ideas are crystalline with close-stitched rhythms and taut interlacing of harmonies which are effective without sacrificing his strong lyrical melodies. Note the clever devices and ideas Jonathan has conceived to deliver a fresh approach to well-documented standards such as On Green Dolphin Street, Invitation, Angel Eyes, All in Love is Fair and You Don't Know What Love Is. These vehicles allow the trio's members to be individually expressive and at the same time serve as a springboard for Jonathan's improvisatory excursions.

The formidable original compositions presented here are noteworthy. Each has its own personality and Jonathan never belabors or constrains the shape of the melody or rhythm. Wendigo is perhaps my favorite of this collection because of its reflective moods, the unpredictability and suppleness of the melody, which stretches the line and harmonies over, under and through the rhythmic framework.

This and more presents an important chapter in Jonathan's musical career. The confidence, poise and enthusiasm is a sure sign that an important voice is waiting in the wings. Thus when opportunity presents itself, the call will be answered by someone who is well-prepared, energetic and focused; that someone is Jonathan Katz!

James Williams
New York City
May 30, 1998

 

 

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