Folk Songs for Far Out Folk
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Fred Katz
Folk Songs for Far Out Folk
Reboot Stereophonic (

One of the original hipsters, ethnomusicologist (professor emeritus at Cal State-Fullerton) Fred Katz (a student of Pablo Casals and the first to play jazz cello-with the Chico Hamilton Quintet) says, "I'm open to anything, except music that's played badly." Reboot Stereophonic has exhumed some of Katz's baddest arrangements, 1959's revelatory Folk Songs for Far Out Folk, an eclectic take on U.S., Israeli, and African folk songs by this Brooklyn-born son of a cabbalist and communist dentist, whose co-conspirators included Buddy Collette (flute), Paul Horn (flute, alto sax), and Jack Constanzo (bongos). This from a cellist who backed Harpo Marx (Harpo in Hi-Fi) and Sidney Poitier (Sidney Poitier Reads Plato)-while skipping a recording date with Brigit Bardot-and who composed the original scores to A Bucket of Blood and Little Shop of Horrors. There's an orchestral character to the music (piano, vibes, guitar, trumpet, trombone, bassoon, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bass, drum kit, bongos), and a percussive quality reminiscent of some of Max Roach's more experimental moments. "Old Paint," "Motherless Child," "Been in the Pen So Long," and "Foggy, Foggy Dew" will never be the same after Katz's treatment, while his take on a trio of West African tunes left "Kumbaya" in the dust, even as "Ray's Nigun" and "Baal Shem Tov" presciently anticipated the likes of the Klezmatics and so many other contemporary klezmer interpreters. Says Katz, now in his 80s, "All I have ever wanted is new ideas, to be thrust into something I had never thought of before. Give me the new and I will listen." Fifty years new, this long-lost classic demands no less. - Michael Stone

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