This week we talk with a true road warrior, Professor of Music and Blues History at Berkeley College of Music the one and only Bruce Katz!
Bruce Katz is a three time (2008, 2009, 2010) Nominee for the Blues Music Award (W.C. Handy Award) for “Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year”, selected by the Blues Foundation of Memphis, TN.
While Blues is a very important part of his music, Bruce’s music has more angles and influences, occupying a unique space where blues, “soul-jazz”, jam-band rock, and all aspects of Americana Music collide into a style of original music all his own. He is equally comfortable playing Hammond B-3 Organ and Piano.
Besides leading the Bruce Katz Band, Bruce performs regularly with the Delbert McClinton Band, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, John Hammond, Maria Muldaur and other artists as well. He was a member of the Gregg Allman Band from 2007-2013.
Over the past twenty five years, Bruce has been an in-demand sideman as well as leading his own band. He has played and recorded with many of the leading names in blues and roots music, appearing on over 70 albums with artists such as Ronnie Earl, John Hammond, Delbert McClinton, Gregg Allman, Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker, Little Milton, Maria Muldaur, Jimmy Witherspoon, Paul Rishell, Mighty Sam McClain, Debbie Davies, David “Fathead” Newman and many others.
Bruce has a lengthy background in classical piano. After hearing a Bessie Smith record when he was 10 years old, he started teaching himself blues and early jazz on the piano. He then heard boogie-woogie and swing music and continued his musical journey into more aspects of jazz and American roots music.
Bruce attended Berklee College of Music in the mid-1970s, studying Composition and performance. For the next fifteen years, he performed with many of the leading musicians in New England, and played “on the road” for long stretches of time. After a particularly long stint of touring in the late ’80s with Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, he decided to come off the road and enrolled at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he earned a Master’s degree in Jazz Performance and studied with Geri Allen, Paul Bley, Cecil McBee and George Russell. It was during this time that he conceived of and started writing music that became the Bruce Katz Band.
In 1992, he met Ronnie Earl, who soon invited him to join his band, The Broadcasters. During his nearly five-year stint with Earl, Katz toured the world and performed on six albums, writing and co-writing many of the tunes, such as “The Colour of Love,” “Ice Cream Man,” and “Hippology.” The album “Grateful Heart” (Bullseye) won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Best Blues Album of 1996.
In 1992 as well, Katz debuted his first solo album, “Crescent Crawl”, on the AudioQuest label. He released “Transformation” the following year. Just before the release of “Mississippi Moan” in 1997, his third solo album, Katz left the Broadcasters to concentrate on a solo career. At that point, the Bruce Katz Band began touring the U.S. and Europe, and has been his ongoin focus, in addition to his many other projects.
Bruce’s 2008 CD, “Live! At the Firefly” (Brown Dog Music/Vizztone) , was received with critical acclaim. The CD rose to #11 on the National Living Blues Radio Chart, and received substantial play on XM/Sirius Satellite Radio Bruce has also been the subject of a feature stories and reviews in most of the leading blues and jazz publications throughtout the world.
In addition to performing, Katz teaches piano, Hammond organ and theory privately at his studio in West Shokan, NY. He taught previously at the Berklee College of Music in Boston for 14 years in the Harmony and Piano Departments. He also conducts Master Classes in Hammond B3 and Blues History, which he has done at various music festivals worldwide.
Formerly from Boston, Bruce has been based in Woodstock, NY since 2005.
The Bruce Katz Band maintains an active touring schedule throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.
The Bruce Katz Band:
“Homecoming”, American Showplace Music, 2014
“Live! At the Firefly”, Brown Dog Music/Vizztone Records, 2008
“A Deeper Blue”, Severn Records, 2004
“Three Feet Off the Ground”, AudioQuest/Valley Entertainment, 2001
“Mississippi Moan”, AudioQuest, 1997
“Transformation”, AudioQuest, 1994
“Crescent Crawl”, AudioQuest, 1992
“Bruce Katz/Joel Frahm “Project A”, Anzic Records, 2009
Selected Recordings With Other Artists
Delbert McClinton, Delbert and Glen, “Blind, Crippled and Crazy”, New West, 2013
Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, “Renaissance Man”, lil’ Johnnyboy Records, 2011
Duke Robillard, “A Swinging Session”, Stony Plain, 2008
Paul Rishell/Annie Raines, “A Night In Woodstock”, 2008
Chris Bergson, “Fall Changes”, 2 Shirts Records, 2008
Joe Louis Walker, “Witness to the Blues”, Stony Plain, 2007
John Hammond, “Push Comes To Shove”, Blue Note, 2006
Little Milton, “What About Me?”, Telarc, 2005
Debbie Davies, “All I Found”, Telarc, 2005
Bryan Lee, “Live and Dangerous”, Justin Time, 2004
Debbie Davies, “Key to Love”, Shanachie, 2003
Bryan Lee, “Six String Therapy”, Justin Time, 2002
Duke Robillard, “Living with the Blues”, Stony Plain, 2002
Mighty Sam McClain, “Sweet Dreams”, Telarc, 2001
Joe Beard, “For Real”, AudioQuest, 2000
Mighty Sam McClain, “Blues for the Soul”, AudioQuest, 2000
Mark Erelli, “Mark Erelli”, Signature Sounds, 1999
Joe Beard, “Dealin’”, Valley Entertainment, 1998
Mighty Sam McClain, “Journey”, AudioQuest, 1998
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, “The Colour of Love”, Verve, 1997
Various Artists, “Keys to the City”, Magnetic Productions, 1997
Kenny Neal/Tab Benoit/Debbie Davies, “Lonesome for the Road”, Telarc, 1996
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, “Grateful Heart”, Rounder, 1996
Mighty Sam McClain, “Keep On Movin’”, AudioQuest, 1996
Jimmy Witherspoon, “Spoon’s Blues”, Stony Plain, 1994
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, “Live in Europe”, Rounder, 1994
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, “Language of the Soul”, Rounder, 1993
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, “Still River, Bullseye, 1993
Cercie Miller, “Dedication”, Stash, 1994
Albert Washington, “Step it up and Go”, Iris Records, 1993
Mighty Sam McClain, “Give It Up To Love”, AudioQuest, 1993
Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, “Live Emulsified”, Rounder, 1989
Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, “Ow Ow Ow”, Rounder, 1987
Arni Cheatham, “Romantha”, Talented Tenth