The Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine is a European jazz legend. The now 71-year-old Catherine started playing professionally when he was only 17 and toured with artists such as Lou Bennett, Dexter Gordon, Jean-Luc Ponty, Chet Baker (with whom he recorded 6 albums), Tom Harrell and many others. In 1978 he received the “Artist of the year” award by the German Phono-Academy, and Charles Mingus gave him the nickname “Young Django”. This is also a result of his impeccable time feel, which allows him to sound relaxed and loose even while playing the most breathtaking up-tempo passages. But it is not mainly his technique and dexterity that sets him apart; furthermore what made him so unique is his acoustic guitar sound, as well as an improvisational style, which is based not on other guitarists, but on some of the great horn players in jazz.
When Martin Wind was studying bass in his hometown of Flensburg/Germany in the 80s one day his teacher gave him a copy of Philip Catherine’s duo recording “The Viking” (1983) with the Danish bass legend Niels-Henning Oersted Pedersen. “That was the first jazz recording that I listened to over and over again and as a result of that had a big influence me,” remembers Wind. He ended up pursuing a professional career in music following Catherine’s example, who at that time was already considered one of the most important European jazz musicians, and about who the South German Newspaper in Munich just recently wrote that he “plays things that cannot be heard by any other guitarist in the world today”.
Martin Wind also made his way: he studied classical bass at the Conservatory in Cologne, Germany, was a founding member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and ended up with a scholarship to study at New York University. In 1996 he moved to New York City, but unlike many others he was meant to stay and has since then become an integral part of the scene working with the trios of Bill Mays, Don Friedman, Dena DeRose, Jim McNeely, Matt Wilson’s “Arts and Crafts”, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and many others.
While touring in Germany about two years ago ACT label boss Siggi Loch heard Wind perform in Berlin. Siggi had Wind on his radar for some time already, was impressed by his tasteful bass playing again and offered to do a duo recording together with – you guessed it: Philip Catherine!
It took a while before the slightly surprised 71-year-old Belgian was able to make himself available for this project. However, in the spring of 2013 Catherine and Wind finally met for a short tour through German Clubs to get musically and personally acquainted for their first ACT – album “New Folks”. Martin Wind apparently came prepared for the musical encounter with his longtime hero, which seemed to inspire the veteran Catherine.
You can pick any given song on the album from “Blues in the Closet” with its almost rock-like, electric facets and archaic Blues phrases, over the 1932 Irving-Berlin-Standard “How deep is the ocean”, from a homage to George Shearing “Hello George” to the melancholic finger style adaptation of Paul McCartney’s later work “Jenny Wren” – at all times these two complement each other perfectly: Catherine’s playing that is technically unique and never seems to stop discovering new lyrical guitar sounds, and Martin Wind’s bass, that is always strong, yet at the same time elegant and lush.
Both are esthetes that love melodic jazz with Swing roots. Probably the best example of how Wind and Catherine tap into the tradition is the old standard “Old Folks”: without any haste or superficial virtuosity, but instead with complete mutual trust they find the ideal tone, the right timbre for each note, lining up sound and space perfectly.
This is the key to the encounter of Martin Wind and Philip Catherine: in the spirit of the Old Folks from Swanee River the New Folks create jazz in the club and in the studio – a meeting of generations marked by harmony and respect.