Fred Katz (cellist)

Frederick Katz (February 25, 1919 – September 7, 2013) was an American cellist and composer.[1] He was among the earliest jazz musicians to establish the cello as a viable improvising solo instrument.[2] Katz has been described in CODA magazine as "the first real jazz cellist."[3]

:Frederick Katz


Born in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York City,[4] Katz was classically trained and studied under Pablo Casals and performed with several symphony orchestras[5] including the National Symphony Orchestra. He was a child prodigy on both the cello and piano and performed in public as a teenager, and was drawn to the music of Manhattan nightclubs and to folk music. In his youth, Katz was a member of the American Communist Party.[4]

During World War II, he conducted concerts and wrote musical revues for the U.S. Seventh Army.[4]

Katz is best known as a member of drummer Chico Hamilton's quintet, one of the most important West Coast jazz groups of the 1950s.[6] Katz's arco cello defined the "chamber jazz" focus of Chico Hamilton's Quintet and the group quickly gained popularity.[7] The Chico Hamilton Quintet, including Katz, appeared in the film Sweet Smell of Success (1957), starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Katz and Hamilton wrote a score for the film which was ultimately rejected in favor of one by Elmer Bernstein.[8]

Katz also recorded several albums as a leader. Another high point in Katz's career was writing and conducting the arrangements for singer Carmen McRae's album Carmen For Cool Ones, which was released in 1958.[9][10]

One of his most recognizable pieces of music was his score for the film A Bucket of Blood (1959), directed by Roger Corman, as the music appeared in a total of seven Corman films, including The Wasp Woman (1959) and Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961).[11] According to Mark Thomas McGee, author of Roger Corman: The Best of the Cheap Acts, each time Katz was called upon to write music for Corman, Katz sold the same score as if it were new music.[12] Katz explained that his music for Corman's The Little Shop of Horrors was created by a music editor piecing together selections from other soundtracks that he had produced for Corman.[13]

Later in his career, Katz became a professor of ethnic music in the Anthropology Department at California State University, Fullerton and California State University, Northridge, where he taught world music, anthropology, and religion for over 30 years. He was a longtime Fullerton resident.[14] One of his students was John Densmore, drummer of The Doors.[15]

Katz died on September 7, 2013, in Santa Monica, California.[4]


As leaderEdit

Film and television musicEdit

As sidemanEdit

With Dorothy Ashby

With Chico Hamilton

With Paul Horn

With Carmen McRae

With Ken Nordine

With Pete Rugolo


  1. ^ Barton, Chris (2013-09-09). "Jazz cellist and educator Fred Katz dies at 94". Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  2. ^ Shepherd, John (2003) Continuum encyclopedia of popular music of the world, Volume II, Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 0-8264-6322-3, page 413.
  3. ^ "Coda Magazine – Google Boeken". 2007. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  4. ^ a b c d Fox, Margalit (September 12, 2013). "Fred Katz, Who Married Cello to Jazz, Dies at 94". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Scott Yanow. "Fred Katz | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  6. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Chico Hamilton: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  7. ^ Weber M., The CODA Interview with Fred Katz, CODA The Jazz Magazine, Issue 176 (1980)
  8. ^ Butler, David. (2002) Jazz Noir: listening to music from Phantom Lady to The Last Seduction. Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-97301-8, p. 136
  9. ^ Gilbert, Andrew (October 22, 2011). "Jazz Departments: Fred Katz: Freak Folk – By Andrew Gilbert". JazzTimes. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  10. ^ Ken Dryden (December 5, 1957). "Carmen for Cool Ones – Carmen McRae | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  11. ^ "Fred Katz filmography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  12. ^ Ray, Fred Olen (1991). The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers As Distributors. McFarland & Company. p. 40. ISBN 0-89950-628-3.
  13. ^ Larson, R. D., A talk with Fred Katz by Randall D. Larson, Originally published in CinemaScore #11/12, 1983
  14. ^ "Fred Katz". Archived from the original on November 9, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  15. ^ Densmore, John (4 November 2009). Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors – John Densmore – Google Books. ISBN 9780307429025. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  16. ^ Fred Katz Catalog, accessed August 14, 2015
  17. ^ McCarthy, Clifford (1985). Film Composers in America: A Filmography, 1911–1970. Oxford University Press. p. 155. ISBN 0-195-11473-6.

External linksEdit