Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Katz, Brian (Phillip)

Katz, Brian (Phillip), nylon string (classical) guitarist, pianist, educator, author; b. Toronto, Canada, 1 December 1955. His parents are Naomi Katz b.1929 and Bernard Katz b.1921. His siblings are Lorne Katz b. 1953 and Heather Katz b. 1948. Katz grew up in Toronto in what he describes as a "music friendly household". He began to play guitar by ear at the age of eight and his father, an amateur harmonica player, was his first jam session partner. Katz grew up listening to show tunes, classical music, Jewish music and jazz. He began formal guitar lessons at the age of nine and studied and played a wide variety of music in his youth.

Brian has improvised since his early childhood, and became passionate about jazz in his early teens. He began his jazz guitar studies with Hank Monis, but mostly learned through "lifting" solos from records. At the age of sixteen, he fortuitously came in contact with the innovative jazzfluegelhornist-teacher-composer, Fred Stone, who saw great potential in the young eclectic musician. Stone, then just off the road from a two year tour with Duke Ellington, was beginning to teach and he delighted in taking Katz "under his wing", introducing him to improvisation in the context of classical and various world music's. Stone, who also played with Thelonius Monk and Charles Mingus, encouraged Brian to flesh out his traditional jazz education, and at his suggestion, Brian attended the jazz program at Humber College in Toronto. Brian also went to York University in Toronto where he studied with pianist/improvisation teacher Casey Sokol and South Indian drumming virtuoso, Trichy Sankaran.

At the age of nineteen Brian got an invitation from Fred Stone to become a member of his jazz/world music ensemble, which he gratefully accepted. He performed with Freddie Stone's band, and often in duet with him, for a period of eight years. Then in his mid-twenties, Brian went to New York to further his career, and to study with jazz guitarist-pianist-composer, Ralph Towner. Towner's orchestral, "classical", approach to modern jazz guitar playing was highly influential in Brian's development. In New York, Brian also attended jazz improvisation group classes with Barry Harris.
Brian also studied traditional classical guitar at the University of Toronto with Norbert Kraft and Eli Kassner. At the Royal Conservatory of music in Toronto he studied classical piano with Leslie Kinton and classical composition with the revered Canadian teacher, Sam Dolin. He holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in music education from the University of Toronto, where he currently trains prospective music teachers as well as teaching guitar. In addition, Brian is a certified teacher of Dalcroze Eurhythmics (Carnegie-Mellon University), an approach to music education that explores the intrinsic relationships between physical movement, improvisation and musical comprehension.  

A celebrated teacher and workshop facilitator, Brian has held teaching posts at York University, Toronto, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, and the Naropa Institute in Boulder,Colorado. In addition, he has extensive experience teaching elementary, middle and high school.
Modern jazz and classical musics  are Brian's major musical vehicles, a foundation to which he brings Jewish, South American, Folk, Middle Eastern and East Indian influences.

Brian also collaborates widely. His stage partners have included Grammy nominated saxophonist/flutist Jane Bunnett and saxophonist/bansuri flutist Ernie Tollar (they form the duo, KATZTOLLAR) , classical flautist Barbara Ackerman, jazz oboist Paul McCandless , guitarists Mordy Ferber, Rob Piltch, William Beauvais, Tim Brady,  and pianist/composer Bill Douglas.  Brian has performed at major festivals and venues in North America and Europe including the Toronto Centre for the Arts, the St. Lawrence Centre, the Toronto Internatioinal Jazz Festival, Ashkenaz, WOMAD and the Kristifore International Jewish festival in Holland.

Brian's longstanding love of Jewish music has led to collaborations with Yiddish/jazz singers Dave Wall, Theresa Tova, Allan Merovitz, and Michael Alpert of Brave Old World.  His duo with virtuoso Dutch clarinetist Martin van de Ven-which is often augmented with Holland's queen of klezmer/balkan violin, Monique Lansdorp- has been investigating the incorporation of jazz improvisation, contemporary harmonization and other world music influences into the klezmer tradition.  They regularly tour in Europe.

Solana: Solana (1991); Bridges (duo with William Beauvais, 1994); Collected Stories (duo with clarinettist Martin van de Ven, 2002)
As sideperson:
Gloria Blizzard: Seven Secrets (1990); Dianne Roy: Dianne Roy (1992); Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band: Agada (1993); Bob Wiseman: City of Wood  (1994); Reid Robins: The Window (1995); Beth Ann Cole: Song Under the Stair (1996)

Unissued recordings:
Fred Stone and Brian Katz in duet performing jazz version of Ravel's Bolero.
Recorded at Humber College, Toronoto, Canada (1975); Approx.two hour recording of Brian Katz and guitarist Mordy Ferber live at Mezzetta in Toronto, Canada (1999)

Television broadcasts:
1984 C.H.C.H. t.v. Toronto. Just Jazz featured special with the Jane Bunnett group(with Larry Cramer, Dave Trevis, Barry Romberg).
1995 T.V. Ontario Jazz show featuring saxophonist-flutist, Jane Bunnett with
Brian Katz and bassist, Kierna Overs.
1996 C.T.V. Toronoto. Jazz show featuring saxophonist-flutist Jane Bunnett with
Brian Katz and bassist, Kieran Overs.
2000 Rogers T.V. Sunday Serenades series: one hour t.v. special featuring my jazz/klezmer group, KLEZMER KATZ
2001 Soup (diriector, David Stein) for Bravo T.V. Toronto. Featured actor/guitarist in this short film for television. It was also shown as a general screening in Toronto and at various film festivals.

Radio broadcasts:
Many performances on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio stations (1975-present). One interesting show that deserves a mention was done for them around 1976: Fred Stone: A Young Persons Guide to the Jazz Orchestra (1976). He played guitar in a big band setting that featured many of Toronto's most known jazz players.

2000 Bartel L. and Cameron L., guest eds. Music Teachers/Musical Mentors.
Orbit: OISE/UT's Magazine for Schools. Volume 31, No. 2 (Lessons from Music), pp. 42?43.
1994 Rees H. The Barry Harris Workshop Video and Workbook. Mississauga: Bop City Productions. Assisted the author in transcribing and editing Mr. Harris' performances on video, for the workbook.
1989  Royal Conservatory of Music, Repertoire and Studies Albums 2, 4, 5, and 7. Composed pieces for this series, many of which are jazz based. Toronto: Frederick Harris Music.
1987 Guitar Music of Brian Katz: Three Pieces for Classical or Jazz Guitarists or Jazz Ensembles, with a Supplementary Section on Tonal Improvisation. Toronto: Elliott Chapin.

Grants and awards:
1995 Ontario Arts Council Artists in Education Grant To fund teaching of Dallcroze Eurhythmics to Hollywood Public School's blind population.
1983/94 Ontario Arts Council Artists in the Schools Grant To fund teaching of composition and improvisation to elementary school children at Avondale Alternative Elementary School.
1993 Toronto Arts Council Grants to Composers: to create a new composition for the guitar duet of Brian Katz and William Beauvais
1992 Offered open $8,000 Graduate Fellowship for outstanding academic achievement.
University of Toronto, Faculty of Music

Contact information:
Brian Katz
580 Christie Street. Apt. 905
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M6G 3E3
(416) 656-5995
fax: (416) 656-6031
website and links : www.briankatz.com and www.collectedstories.ca
(Klezmer-Jazz project)

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