by Howard Reich
More than a decade ago, a teenage Chicago saxophonist startled audiences with the rough-hewn brilliance and energy of his playing. The question was whether he would build on the promise of his debut or simply fade away, as most prodigies do, whether he could find a way of turning the youthful ardor of his playing into something deeper and more distinctive.
Frank Catalano answered the question definitively over the weekend at the Green Mill Jazz Club, where he celebrated the release of a new recording and launched a lengthy run of Chicago appearances. Though he hasn’t lost any of the fervency of his earliest performances, he now conveys an unmistakable intellectual heft and authority. More important, he sounds as if he’s on the verge of forging a self-styled, autobiographical musical language. (more…)
by Ron Netsky
Source:Rochester City News
Most saxophonists these days are so cerebral they have all but forgotten the fun, honking side of the instrument. Young Chicago sax man Frank Catalano plays with the best of the serious jazz masters, but he has also absorbed healthy doses of King Curtis and Maceo Parker. On The Mighty Burner, he comes out of the gate racing through the title tune, a tribute to organist Charles Earland. (Earland was just one of the greats this 27-year-old phenom toured with while still in his teens.)
Catalano never slows down to breathe, but he is by no means one-dimensional. In fact, when he really gets fired up on original compositions like “Love Bugaloo” and “ Tuna Town ,” Catalano can veer away from the muscular melodies right to the edge of dissonance. It’s a tour-de-force performance, effortlessly gliding through the instrument’s split personality to a perfect landing. His band-mates — Vijay Tellis-Nayak, piano; Matt Thompson, bass; Robert Gay, drums (and Greg Spero, keyboards and Shawn Sommer, bass on one track) — are more than up to the funky task. When the album’s over, expect to feel like you’ve run a glorious marathon.
If I were a saxophonist, I certainly would want to be Maceo Parker for a day. Frank catalano Certainly had the long-time James Brown sideman on his mind when he recorded Mighty Burner.
With three fine Delmark hard bop discs under his belt, the twenty-something Chicagoan unleashes this crowd-pleasing live session. He takes no pauses, focusing on quartet music, soloing liberally and barely pausing for a minimal drum solo by Robert Gay. The title track is a rocked-out blues that presses the accelerator continuously. Jazz snobs certainly should avoid the funky music laid down here. Catalano plays bar-walking pleasers throughout. (I think Mr. Coltrane dipped his big toe into some of this pleasure early on too.)
If Catalano weren’t a major talent on the saxophone, this guilty pleasure of an album would call for a pass. But he tosses some smart blues improvisation within the honking on “Burner’s Blues,” and the funk lays heavy on “God’s Love For Music,” with some sizzling electric keyboard and bass backing. While the disco remix tacked onto the end is very forgettable—did somebody call for a 1970s soundtrack?—the live tracks are a jazz fan’s guilty pleasure.
by Chicago Magazine
Source: Chicago Magazine