Artist Q-and-A
September 16, 2013 • 09:05:18 a.m.

Frank Catalano to bring sound to Jazz Weekend


Frank Catalano (Photo by Corey Jessup)

While he still was in high school, saxophonist Frank Catalano had already performed with the likes of Tony Bennett, Miles Davis and Stan Getz.

Now 36, the Chicago-born and Grammy Award-winning Catalano is the featured performer at the second annual St. Charles Jazz Weekend, which will run Thursday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 15.
A schedule of performers and participating venues is at

The event is put on by the St. Charles Downtown Partnership, and the Kane County Chronicle is a premier media sponsor of the event.

Kane County Chronicle Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Catalano about his illustrious career.

Eric Schelkopf: Of course, you will be playing at the St. Charles Jazz Weekend. I know that growing up, you were a member of the Elgin Community College Jazz Band. How long were you a member?
Frank Catalano:
I guess it would have been 1991-1995, while I was in high school.

ES: So, being part of St. Charles Jazz Weekend, is it good to be on home turf?
I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve had I don’t know how many people send nice emails saying that they’re coming out. In some cases, it’s people who I haven’t seen in, like, 20 years.

Ironically, for the Saturday portion at The House Pub, I also got invited by a couple of the guys from the band Wilco to do this festival that day with them called the Beethoven Festival, which is an international festival.

I’m going to pull some double duty that day.

ES: Why do you think you are in such high demand?
That’s a good question. I really had a horrible car accident two and a half years ago.
A ... driver plowed into me and dislocated some ribs. I didn’t know how much I would be playing after that.

And I know a lot of times people talk about what happened about 20 years ago, when I had my right middle finger cut off. So, I really have had enough accidents that would put somebody out of commission completely, especially this last one, where I easily could have died.

I’m still in physical therapy two and half years later. I didn’t really know how much in demand I would be, to be honest. Maybe it’s because I have enough of my own style going on at this point and that I kind of contribute a lot of energy.

Also, I like improvising in a way that is a little more risk-based, and I write songs in that manner. I definitely try my best to bring my own style to the table, so to speak.

ES: What did the experience of playing with the Elgin Community College Jazz Band teach you that carries with you to this day?
Last week, I was playing with legendary trumpet player Randy Brecker in New York, but I met him more than 20 years ago playing in the ECC Jazz Band because he was the guest artist. And then he started hiring me for gigs soon after that.

So, that one connection from being in the ECC Jazz Band has lasted almost 20 years now. Also, I got to meet drummer Louie Bellson. He hired me for a bunch of stuff and he wrote the liner notes for my first CD, and I’m on a video with him. He was also a guest artist with the ECC Jazz Band.

So, in addition to getting to meet people like that, which is almost unheard of nowadays, it really made me hone my skills.

I didn’t want to sound crappy getting to play with these people, and I wanted to impress them.
I really feel getting to play with these people as a young teenager at ECC helped me out very much to this day.

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