Richard Aaron Katz (March 13, 1924[1] – November 10, 2009)[2] was an American jazz pianist, arranger and record producer. He freelanced throughout much of his career, and worked in a number of ensembles. He co-founded Milestone Records in 1966 with Orrin Keepnews.


Katz studied at the Peabody Institute, the Manhattan School of Music, and Juilliard. He also took piano lessons from Teddy Wilson. In the 1950s, he joined the house rhythm section of the Café Bohemia, and worked in the groups of Ben Webster and Kenny Dorham, Oscar Pettiford, and, later, Carmen McRae. From 1954 to 1955, he was part of the J. J. Johnson/Kai Winding Quintet. He also worked in Orchestra USA and participated on Benny Carter's Further Definitions album, and worked on some of Helen Merrill's recordings. In the late 1960s, he played with Roy Eldridge and Lee Konitz. In the 1990s, he worked as a pianist and arranger with the American Jazz Orchestra and Loren Schoenberg's big band.

Will Friedwald called Katz "a keyboardist of uncommon sensitivity and harmonic acumen."[3] He was the favorite pianist of Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins, as well as vocalists Carmen McRae and Helen Merrill.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

He died in Manhattan of lung cancer at the age of 85.[5]

His son, Jamie Katz, a Columbia University graduate, is a freelance journalist and contributor to the Smithsonian magazine.[6][7][8]


As leader/co-leaderEdit

Year recorded Title Label Notes
1957 Jazz Piano International Atlantic Trio, with Ralph Peña (bass), Connie Kay (drums); album shared with Derek Smith and René Urtreger[9][10]
1958–59 Piano and Pen Atlantic Quartet, with Jimmy Raney and Chuck Wayne (guitar; separately), Joe Benjamin (bass), Connie Kay (drums)[9]
1968 A Shade of Difference Milestone Co-led with Helen Merrill (vocals)
1984 In High Profile Bee Hive Some tracks trio, with Marc Johnson (bass), Al Harewood (drums); some tracks quintet, with Jimmy Knepper (trombone), Frank Wess (tenor sax, flute) added[9][11]
1992 3 Way Play Reservoir Trio, with Steve LaSpina (bass), Ben Riley (drums)[12]
1995 The Line Forms Here Reservoir Quintet, with Benny Golson (tenor sax), Ryan Kisor (trumpet), Steve LaSpina (bass), Ben Riley (drums)[9]

As sidemanEdit

With Benny Carter

With Al Cohn

With Jack DeJohnette

With Kenny Dorham

  • Kenny Dorham And The Jazz Prophets (Chess, 1956)

With Nancy Harrow

  • Secrets (Soul Note, 1991)

With Milt Hinton

  • East Coast Jazz /5 (Rhino, 1955)

With Jimmy Knepper

With Lee Konitz

With Carmen McRae

With Helen Merrill

  • "The feeling is mutual" 1965
  • Chasin' The Bird (Emarcy, 1979)

With James Moody

With Joe Newman

With Oscar Pettiford

With Jimmy Raney

With Sonny Rollins

With Loren Schoenberg

  • ’’That’s The Way It Goes’’ (Aviva, 1984)
  • ’’Time Waits For No One’’ (Music Masters 1987)
  • ’’Solid Ground’’(Music Masters 1988)
  • ’’Just A Settin’ And A-Rockin’ ‘’(Music Masters 1989)
  • Manhattan Work Song (Music Masters 1992)
  • Out Of This World (TBC; 1997)

With Ben Webster

  • Big Ben Time! (Philips, 1963)

With Kai Winding and J. J. Johnson


  1. ^ "Dick Katz | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  2. ^ Ratliff, Ben (November 12, 2009). "Dick Katz, 85, Jazzman of Many Gifts Over 6 Decades, Is Dead".
  3. ^ Friedwald, Will (November 2010). A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers. Pantheon. ISBN 978-0-375-42149-5.
  4. ^ "Octojazzarian profile: Dick Katz". 2008-12-22. Archived from the original on 2011-09-18.
  5. ^ Ratliff, Ben (13 November 2009). "Dick Katz, 85, Jazzman of Many Gifts over 6 Decades, is Dead". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Boncy, Alexis (Fall 2020). "Radio Days". Columbia College Today. Archived from the original on 2020-10-21. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  7. ^ "Articles by Jamie Katz | Smithsonian Magazine". Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  8. ^ Gambino, Megan. "Jamie Katz on "The Soul of Memphis"". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  9. ^ a b c d Fitzgerald, Michael (October 2, 2011). "Dick Katz Leader Entry".
  10. ^ Dryden, Ken. "Dick Katz: Jazz Piano International". AllMusic. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  11. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Dick Katz: In High Profile". AllMusic. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  12. ^ Dryden, Ken. "Dick Katz: 3 Way Play". AllMusic. Retrieved February 1, 2019.