Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Cartwright, Katharine (Katchie)

Cartwright, Katharine (Katchie), singer, teacher; b. New York, NY, 17 July 1952.  She was raised in a family of artists in Minisink Hills, PA with her parents (David, 1920-1975; and Carol, nee Harriton, b. 1924) and two brothers (Erik, b. 1950, and Brett, b. 1954).

Flute was her primary instrument from third grade until the early 1980s. The Delaware Water Gap area, where she grew up, was home to a number of prominent jazz musicians who became friends and mentors, notably Al Cohn, Bob Dorough, Flo Handy (Ella Mae Morse's sister and the wife of Al Cohn), and Phil Woods. In 1975, she moved back to New York and, during the late 1970s and early 1980s, worked as a flutist-singer-percussionist, appearing with such musicians as Ed Blackwell, Charles Brackeen, Cameron Brown, Bob Dorough, Dennis Irwin, Colette Michaan, Hilton Ruiz, Danny Spencer, James Weidman, Phil Woods, and Eliot Zigmund; and recording with Gregory Alper, Bill Goodwin, Mark Holen, Graham Moses, Bern Nix, and Richard Oppenheim. She trained as a classical flutist with Karl Kraber at The City University of New York, graduating with a B.S. in Music Performance in 1989. Outside the academy, she studied Afro-Cuban drumming with Tommy Lopez, Sr. and taught herself to sing jazz, taking lessons in improvisation from Phil Woods and other reed players.
She married saxophonist Richard Oppenheim in 1982. From 1984-1989, after the birth of her daughter Eleonore (b. 1983, now a bassist), she worked as a solo singer-pianist and in a voice-bass duet with Cameron Brown until forming her quintet with Brown, Oppenheim, Bill Goodwin, and James Weidman in 1992. She composes and arranges for the group, whose wide-ranging repertoire includes bebop classics, American popular standards, original pieces, compositions by John Cage, and collaborations with South Asian musicians.

Cartwright received a doctorate in ethnomusicology (Ph.D., Music) from The City University of New York in 1998, with an en route Masters from Queens College in 1992 (MA, Music).  From 1998-2002, she headed the Improvised Music Studies program at San Jose State University in California.  She has remained active as an artist and academic, performing, teaching, researching, and consulting in Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Europe.  She has served as chair of the International Association for Jazz Educations Sisters in Jazz program, which provides mentorship and performance opportunities for emerging women artists, as a teacher with the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ), and as an American Cultural Specialist for the US Department of State.

Sing the Poetry (1991); Live! At the Deer Head Inn (1993); Katharine Cartwright and Richard Oppenheim: Soulmates (1999), La Faute de la Musique: Songs of John Cage (2000), A Mumbai of the Mind: Ferlinghetti Improvisations (2000-2001)

As sideperson:
Mark Holen's Zambomba (1981); Gregory Alper Band: Chesno Straighter (1982); The Flint Brothers: Nicaraguan Nights (1985); Graham Moses (Far Edges (1994): Gregory Alper & Fat Doggie!: How Much is That in Dog Years? (1998)

Films and videos:
Money Rock--Bob Dorough (Walt Disney Pictures and Television) (DVD release 2002; rec. 1998); Alexa--(Platinum Pictures/Hydra Film Partners); score by Gregory Alper (1989)

Quotation and Reference in Jazz Performance: Ella Fitzgerald's 'St. Louis Blues,' 1957-79. (doctoral dissertation, The Graduate School of the City University of New York, 1998).
Sisters in Jazz and Beyond: Through Mentorship, Musicianship and Mobility, Jazz Educators Journal 33/6 (May 2001).
If You Can't Sing It...': Aural-Oral Education and the Integrated Curriculum," Jazz Educators Journal 28 (1995).

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