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Rarely does a musician display brilliant dexterity, coupled with sparks of creativity, equally in both blues and jazz. One such rare bird is Bruce Katz, who not only meets these characteristics, but excels in his understanding of the genres and unleashes the strongest assets of each. Best known as a member of Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters, Katz took up music at age five when he outperformed his sister at the classical pieces she was assigned for piano lessons. Discovering classic jazz and a Bessie Smith record planted the seeds of a passion for jazz and blues. In the early '80s his first major supporting gig was Big Mama Thornton; he then worked and toured with Barrence Whitfield & the Savages, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Witherspoon, Johnny Adams, and Tiger Okoshi. Burned out from life on the road, he enrolled at New England Conservatory, earning a master's degree in jazz. Five months after graduation, Katz met Ronnie Earl, who hired him. During his nearly five-year stint with Earl, Katz performed on six CDs, and also co-wrote songs with Earl, including "The Colour of Love," "Ice Cream Man," and "Hippology." In 1992 Katz debuted his first solo album, Crescent Crawl, then released Transformation the following year. Just before the release of Mississippi Moan, Katz left the Broadcasters to concentrate further on his solo career. His album roster includes 1993's Transformation, 1997's Mississippi Moan, 2000's Three Feet to the Ground, 2004's Deeper Blue, and 2008's Live! At the Firefly. Katz has also been a member of Gregg Allman's group, and has toured as pianist with the Allman Brothers Band. In addition to performing and recording, Katz teaches piano and is an associate professor at the Berklee College of Music, where he taught the school's first ever in-depth blues course. ~ Char Ham
19 August 1952
'80s, '90s, '00s