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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another Living Musician I Love - Frank Catalano

Frank Catalano is a torch-carrier, bringing the hot jazz tenor sax into his generation. He has been playing seriously for two thirds of his life - started around the age of 10, and he is about 30 now. Frank was one of those jazz band geeks in high school, but a hugely talented geek. He was playing in jazz clubs at the age of 17, and he has led his own group for years. He has also played with a long list of stars, ranging from Tony Bennett and Betty Carter to Santana and Destiny's Child.

One word describes Frank's playing - INTENSE! Take Michael Brecker, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman and Dexter Gordon, mix well, then filter through a young man's high-energy persona, and you get Catalano's tenor sax sound. What is the source of this fire and fountain of ideas? He is a young cat from the 'burbs ferchristsake - his old homies are probably zoned out on video games all day. Frank is not the standard 20-something suburban slacker - he is a piece of work, people.

Oh, and here is the the cool Catalano story - he cut off the middle finger of his right hand while working on an old car when he was 16. After reconstructive surgery, he went back to the sax and mastered it - I am sure there was pain and frustration along the path. So Frank isn't some golden child of privilege - he is a determined S.O.B.

I was delighted to play with Frank on a couple of Mystery Band gigs last year. He is a good-natured guy, not arrogant at all (I might be arrogant if I could play like him).

So buy his record - it is good stuff.

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