261

Fred Katz: Folk Songs For Far Out Folk

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Fred Katz: Folk Songs For Far Out Folk
An early student of Pablo Casals, Fred Katz is best known as the seminal jazz cellist in Chico Hamilton's breakthrough chamber jazz quintet of the 1950s. With a lengthy list of credits to his oeuvre, Katz went on to forge an unprecedented career path. From film score composer for Roger Corman (Little Shop of Horrors, A Bucket of Blood, The Wasp Woman) and one-time A&R man for Decca Records to gigs as arranger for such oddball concept records as Sidney Poitier Reads Plato, Harpo Marx's Harpo in Hi-Fi and Ken Nordine's Word Jazz series to composing an anti-Vietnam war solo cello piece entitled "The Soldier Puppet," Katz's career has been an unusual one.

1958's Folk Songs For Far Out Folk is an interesting detour for the visionary artist. Long treasured as an obscure gem by lounge music aficionados, it is easy to hear why this session is so well regarded. Even though Katz himself doesn't play on the record, it does feature his distinctive outsider sensibility.

Exploring folk music from three different cultures, American, Jewish and African, Katz assembled a different band to tackle each ethnicity. Flowing like a quality compilation of period exotica, the overall mood of the session is cohesive, rather than schizophrenic, even though the tonalities and rhythms change frequently.

Despite his radical Leftist politics, Katz's intricate adaptations of African folk songs are more akin to the moody exotica of Martin Denny and Les Baxter than the vitriol of Max Roach and Archie Shepp. Nonetheless, these cinematic hybrids of percolating percussion and mellifluous brass are joyous to behold in their contrapuntal glory. The two Hassidic inclusions fall into the sober, reflective side of the tradition, rich with counterpoint and neo-classical ambition, not the hyperkinetic strains of Klezmer prevalent today. The bulk of the album consists of intriguing arrangements of American folk songs, often delivered with a brisk bop lilt worthy of Herb Ellis or Lionel Hampton.

The mixed ensemble is a surprising combination of A-list artists. The American sessions feature pianist Johnny T. Williams (aka, John Williams, famous Hollywood film composer) and fleet fingered guitarist Billy Bean, while the Hebrew set adds the supple reeds of Buddy Collette and Paul Horn. The African tunes combine the bongo wizardry of Jack Costanzo (Stan Kenton) and the brassy fanfare of trumpeters Pete Candoli (Woody Herman, Stan Kenton) and Irving Goodman (Benny's brother).

An immensely enjoyable set, Folk Songs For Far Out Folk isn't as esoteric as its title might indicate, nor does it sound quaint and dated. A potent reminder of a time when anything seemed possible and the future was just around the corner, this album stands as proof that Katz was well ahead of his time.

Track Listing

Mate'ka; Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child; Been In The Pen So Long; Chili'lo (Lament); Rav's Nigun; Old paint; Manthi-Ki; Baal Shem Tov; Foggy, Foggy Dew.

Personnel

Fred Katz: conductor, arranger; Gene Estes: vibes, percussion (2, 3, 6, 9); Billy Bean: guitar (2, 3, 6, 9); Johnny T. Williams: piano (2, 3, 6, 9); Mel Pollen: bass (2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9); Jerry Williams: drums (2, 3, 6, 9); Justin Gordon: bassoon and bass clarinet (5, 8); Paul Horn: flute and alto saxophone (5, 8); Buddy Colette: flute (5, 8); Jules Jacobs: oboe and clarinet (5, 8); George Smith: clarinet (5, 8); Pete Candoli: trumpet (1, 4, 7); Irvin: Goodman: trumpet (1, 4, 7), Don Fagerquist: trumpet (1, 4, 7); George Roberts: trombone (1, 4, 7); Harry Betts: trombone (1, 4, 7); Bob Enevoldsen: trombone (1, 4, 7); Larry Bunker: percussion (1, 4, 7); Jack Costanzo: percussion (1, 4, 7); Carlos Mejia: percussion (1, 4, 7); Lou Singer: percussion (1, 4, 7).

Album information

Title: Folk Songs For Far Out Folk | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Reboot Stereophonic

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read The Rise Up
The Rise Up
Mehmet Ali Sanlikol
Read New York Moment
New York Moment
JC Hopkins Biggish Band
Read Pollinator
Pollinator
Matt Ulery
Read Hug!
Hug!
Matt Wilson Quartet
Read Touch & Go
Touch & Go
Susan Tobocman
Read The Ilkley Suite
The Ilkley Suite
Jamil Sheriff
Read Moving Through Worlds
Moving Through Worlds
Fiona Joy Hawkins

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.