(photo credit: Courtesy of philipcatherine.com)
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
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
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.