In 2006, Boston born jazz singer KATHERINE GANG (www.katgang.net
) was performing with many of London’s finest players. Gang approached songwriter, producer, composer, arranger, guitarist RICHARD NILES (www.richardniles.com
). This was the catalyst for them to work on a group project, KATALYST. It is a great pleasure to make this music available for the first time.
NILES has been called “one of the most versatile men in modern music” devoting equal time to jazz (Pat Metheny, Bob James) and pop (McCartney, Ray Charles, James Brown). His songwriting reflects his diverse experience.
For the KATALYST project Niles brought in drummers DANNY GOTTLIEB (Metheny, McLaughlin), and the late CHRIS DAGLEY. Young ultra-hip virtuoso British bassist/composer JANEK GWIZDALA (Mike Stern, Randy Brecker) co-wrote a couple of songs and arrangements while STEVE HAMILTON (Bill Bruford, Tommy Smith) and the brilliant CLIVE DUNSTALL contributed piano. Also on board was bassist STEFAN REDTENBACHER known to his friends as “the Austrian Governor of Funk”. Guest sax solos were provided by young New York tenorist JOHN ELLIS and British phenomenon NIGEL HITCHCOCK on alto sax.
KATALYST defies categorization. The sound is a dynamic fission of rock, pop, latin and jazz – by turns searing and mellow – from funk to float. As a result, the music is sophisticated but accessible – hip but melodic – delivered with a unique dialogue between Gang and Niles. Niles says, “Imagine Sting, Steely Dan and Anita O’Day having a jam in Randy Brecker’s kitchen.”
Also setting KATALYST apart is the attitude of the lyrics. While most jazz oriented lyrics today are rather bland, KATALYST songs are insightful, ripe with social commentary, sarcasm and humour delivered with Gang’s razor-sharp diction, steely tone and killer phrasing.
In a musical world where most of what’s on offer is unsurprising, KATALYST was unfalteringly unpredictable and unequivocally unexpected.