Concert Review: Philip Catherine Trio

Catherine is obviously looking to the future and came to Israel armed with a couple of bright young sidemen.

Philip Catherine_311 (photo credit: Courtesy of
Philip Catherine_311
(photo credit: Courtesy of
It is a rare treat to catch a performance of a quality jazz artist such as 68-year-old Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine. Catherine has been doing his creative thing for nigh on half a century, and has mixed it up with plenty of titans of the art form, including the likes of trumpeters Chet Baker, bassist Charles Mingus and violinist Stéphane Grappelli.
However, Catherine is obviously looking to the future and came to Israel armed with a couple of bright young sidemen, one of whom could have been Catherine’s grandson. Tenderness of age notwithstanding, 18-year-old drummer Antoine Pierre demonstrated remarkable rhythmic and textural understanding and maturity far beyond his years, while 37- year-old bassist Philippe Aerts – he alternated between acoustic bass and bass guitar – showed a keen sense of melody throughout.
But, naturally, the concert was primarily about the experienced leader. Catherine may be past the official retirement age but his energy level never waned, and he moved seamlessly between explosive bursts with blistering finger work – possibly offering shades of his rock-oriented past – gossamer strumming and furtive runs.
The guitarist was keen to promote his latest recording, his reading of a collection of numbers written by Cole Porter, and he closed the show with an excellent reading of Porter’s “Get out of Town.” A delicate delivery of a ballad called “Letter from My Mother” had the less-than-packed Reading 3 audience whooping with appreciation, and Porter’s “So in Love” also elicited loud applause.
Catherine is also a generous leader and allowed his young sidemen plenty of space to show off their sparkling talents. One solo from Pierre, in particular, brought the house down as the teenager alternated between drums and cymbals, cleverly alternating the rhythm with the bass drum, and spanning a wide range of colors and textures.
Catherine’s last gig here was around a decade ago at the Tel Aviv Jazz festival and one hopes he will be back – with his young cohorts – sooner than that.

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