Philip Catherine has been on the forefront of the European jazz scene since the sixties. His work great artists like Chet Baker, Larry Coryell, Tom Harrell, NHØP, Stephane Grappelli, Charles Mingus, his unique approach and sound, his dedication to music have been important and influential.
On the eve of their sell-out UK tour, in February 1976, Focus' guitarist Jan Akkerman quit the band. Thijs van Leer managed to enrol Philip Catherine for the tour. By the time of the BBC 'In Concert' recording in March 1976 he was fully up to speed. Although some may miss Akkerman's flamboyance there is no denying that Catherine turned in a competent performance.
Philip Catherine was born in London in 1942. Being from a musical family (his grandfather was first violin with the London Symphony Orchestra), he developed a musical ear from an early age. He took up the guitar after having discovered Brassens and Django Reinhardt, and started listening to all the great jazzmen of the period. Very soon he had the opportunity to meet some of them, and often accompanied them when they played in Belgium where his family had moved to by then.
At the age of 18 he toured Europe with Lou Bennett and in 1971 Jean-Luc Ponty asked him to join his quintet. In 1974-75 he made his first records under his name, "September Man" and "Guitars". Jazz amateurs the world over discovered not only a brilliant guitarist, but also a talented composer: themes like "Homecomings" and "Nairam" have become famous.
He has played in the most prestigious concert halls, from the Berlin Philharmonic to the Carnegie Hall, from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam to the Olympia and Salle Pleyel in Paris and the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Brussels, but still loves to play in jazz clubs from time to time, because of the direct communication with the audience.
The success of his appearances with some leading European big bands, and in recent years also more frequently with chamber orchestra's, have reveiled that his lyrical compositions are particularly apropriate for arrangements for larger ensembles.
Philip Catherine has received many awards, among others the "BIRD" Prize (90), together with Stan Getz, at the North Sea Festival, the "Django D'Or" (98) in Paris for 'Best European Jazz Artist', and recently the ZAMU 'Lifetime Achievement Award'. In November 2002 he will receive the title "Maestro Honoris Causa" from the Antwerp Conservatory (title which has been given previous years to reputed artists like Jos van Immerseel, Sigiswald Kuijken and Toots Thielemans).
In 1997 Philip Catherine signed with Dreyfus Records. His first album on this label - simply called "Live" (being the very first 'live' recording of his career) has been highly acclaimed by the international press (4-star in Down Beat, "best album of the year" in Jazz Nu ; etc..). It was followed in '98 by "Guitar Groove" (with Jim Beard on piano and keyboards, Alphonso Johnson on bass and Rodney Holmes on drums), which features twelve superb compositions by Philip and a beautiful rendering of 'Stardust'. The album got impressive radio airplay in the USA and - very exceptional for a European jazz cd - it broke the top 20 of the Gavin Jazz Chart where it stayed for several months. The Cd "Blue Prince" (nov 2000) received very enthusiastic acclaim from the press : "Record of the Year", in 'JazzMan' and was selected among best album of the year in many magazines and newspapers. It shows again that Philip Catherine may be counted among the great jazz artists of our time.