He was born in London from an English mother and Belgian father.
He began playing in the 1960s with Lou Bennett, Dexter Gordon and Stéphane Grappelli. He was then a member of the Jean-Luc Ponty quintet, right after he recorded his first album, Stream, produced by Frenchman Sacha Distel. The album was recorded in 1970, in Paris, and released in 1971 on Warner Bros. Records. A year later, he met John Scofield, Ran Blake, George Benson and more musicians in Boston.
In early 1976 Catherine replaced Jan Akkerman in the Dutch rock group Focus and appeared on one album with the band, Focus con Proby which also featured American singer P. J. Proby.
In the '80's he played extensively with the Chet Baker Trio. He is featured on several of Chet's albums. He also played with Charlie Mingus who named Catherine Young Django.
AllAboutJazz critique Ed Kopp in his review of Catherine's album Guitar Groove said:
- "Guitar Groove is an astoundingly lyrical effort from a guitarist in his prime. It should appeal equally to fans of mainstream jazz and fusion, and to anyone who appreciates superior jazz musicianship."
Another AllAboutJazz critique John Kelman in his review of Cathrine's 2008 album Guitars Two said:
- "Sometimes it's not a good thing to get branded too early in your career. Called the young Django" by Charles Mingus and operating in the same fusion sphere as John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell, Belgian Philip Catherine was pegged in the '70s as a firebrand guitarist, albeit an unabashedly lyrical one. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but Catherine's career, now nearing its sixth decade, has always been about a lot more than powerhouse fusion chops, something Guitars Two demonstrates in spades. Catherine's ability to reference traditional markers from Reinhardt to Wes Montgomery, while sounding like nobody but himself, makes Guitars Two the kind of career high point that ought to dispel the guitarist's early branding. The qualities that established his reputation remain, but are subsumed in a broader approach that makes Guitars Two deserving of a place alongside Pat Metheny's New Chautauqua (ECM, 1979), Bill Frisell's Ghost Town (Nonesuch, 2000) and Joe Pass' '70s Virtuoso series on Pablo', as a pinnacle of what can be done by one man and a handful of guitars."
He is now considered as the grandfather of Belgian jazz as he continues to play on the now very active Belgian jazz scene. He won the first Belgian Golden Django (in 1995) as best French-speaking artist.
Read more about this topic: Philip Catherine
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