Dick Katz, Rest in Peace

Last week while we were in New York City and got word that 85 year old pianist Dick Katz had passed away.  It was a sad day.  Here is a link to his New York Times obituary by Ben Ratliff.

Dick was one of the first people I interviewed as part of the Jazz Loft Project in 1998.  His tremendous respect for loft resident Hall Overton impacted my research.  In my first piece of writing on the Jazz Loft Project which appeared in DoubleTake magazine in 1999 I quoted Dick on Overton:  “Hall should be a famous figure today.  But he had absolutely no capability or willingness to promote himself.  He was satisfied hanging out at that loft and playing music without getting any attention.  But he had an enormous impact on many of us.”

In December of 2000 I interviewed Dick again in his studio and he talked about the kind of jazz he enjoyed:  “My criteria that it must sound new to you.  If it feels new it’s succeeded.  Even if a guy has played something fifty times or a thousand times before, you don’t know that.  It doesn’t sound like a routine.  That’s why Zoot Sims was so great, or Errol Garner or Monk.  They could play the same thing over and over but it never came out the same even though it is the same.”

- Sam Stephenson

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