has been on the forefront of the European jazz scene since the sixties. His work great artists like Chet Baker, Larry Coryell, Tom Harrell, NHOP, Stéphane Grappelli, Charles Mingus, his unique approach and sound, his dedication to music have been important and influential.
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 1971 he made his first record under his name, "Stream", followed in 1974-75 by "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.
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", the ZAMU "Lifetime Achievement Award" (2001) and "Best Musician" (2002).
In 2002 he received 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 (4½-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 US 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.
"Summer Night" (Dreyfus, 2002) - in trio/quartet with Philippe Aerts on bass, Joost van Schaik on drums, and Bert Joris on trumpet - contains six new compositions, a beautiful re-take of "Janet" and six standards. It shows again that Philip Catherine may be counted among the great jazz artists of our time.
"The success of his appearances with some leading European big bands, and more frequently with chamber orchestra's, have revealed that his lyrical compositions are particularly appropriate for arrangements for larger ensembles.
This lead to the collaboration with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra (BJO, , who were the first european big band to be elected in the 2004 Downbeat Critics Poll), and in april 2005 the album "Meeting Colours" (Dreyfus) was released, with superb arrangements of his music for guitar and big band by trumpet player/arranger Bert Joris.
In 2007 Philip Catherine prepared a new solo guitar program. The beauty of his compositions really stands out in these arrangements. Philip, surrounded by his guitars and his pedal-rack, fascinates his audience. "Guitars Two" (2008, Dreyfus Jazz), the first solo album of his career, was hailed in the international press as one of his best albums.
The album "Live at Cap Breton" (Dreyfus, 4/2010) with an all-star line-up: Enrico Pieranunzi (p), Hein Van de Geyn (b), Joe LaBarbera (dr) received great reviews and the quartet played some beautiful concerts at summer festivals in 2010.
In 2011 The album "Philip Catherine plays Cole Porter" was released on Challenge Records, in quartet with pianist Karel Boehlee, Martijn Vink on drums and Philippe Aerts on double bass. A special tribute to this great composer. In the words of Hein Van de Geyn : "Philip's unique sound is always recognizable, deeply expressive and so very personal. By surrendering to the tune, by simply trying to give the honest rendition of these timeless songs, Philip proved himself to be a great singer." It received among others the CHOC in JazzMan.
Philip Catherine celebrated his 70th birthday in October 2012, with a memorable concert at the Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts, and the release of a new CD.
"Coté Jardin" (10/2012, Challenge Records) was recorded with his new Quartet: Italian pianist Nicola Andrioli, young fabulous drummer Antoine Pierre and longstanding companion Philippe Aerts on bass, plus additional keyboards by Philippe Decock, and - a première - daughter Isabelle Catherine on vocals in a beautiful version of Philip's composition "Coté Jardin" with lyrics by Jacques Duvall. The repertoire consists of own compositions, some by Andrioli as well as a geat cover of Brassens, and enchants both the jazz fans and the classical music lover.
In January 2014 a new album will be released on ACT Music, a duo recording with the great German bassplayer Martin Wind.
Philip Catherine continues relentlessly and open-minded his search for renewal and perfection. The formulas with which he performs give him the rhythmic support and freedom to unfold his wide palette of musical styles, from that irresistible groovy rock sound to the broad lyrical phrases of which he is a master.