David Catney, jazz pianist and cornerstone of the Houston jazz community, died at the age of 33, of an AIDS-related illness, at 7 a.m. last Thursday, August 11, at Twelve Oaks Hospital in Houston. Catney was a tireless performer and organizer, performing solo and with his trio, as well as booking respected national acts at Cezanne, the Montrose jazz club he transformed into Houston's only national-caliber jazz venue.
Catney recorded three albums for the Justice Records label: First Flight, Jade Vision, and Reality Road, a stirring reflection on mortality released earlier this year. Catney's music also appeared on multiple compilations, and has been widely used in television and film production.
I did not know Catney personally, but many in the local music community knew him well, and their respect and admiration -- for his music, and for his bravery in the face of a presently incurable disease -- leave no question that he was not simply a gifted musician, but a very special man. Even as Catney was repeatedly hospitalized, he continued to perform; and not wanting to burden perception of his work with sympathy, he chose not to publicly announce his illness until this past month. For these and other reasons, it has been said only half-jokingly of Catney that he was becoming a saint. And while the temptation to romanticize Catney's ordeal is great, it is probably a more respectful tribute to say simply that he was a man blessed with great talent and faced with great difficulty, who nonetheless understood how to be truly human in the face of adversity. He will be remembered admiringly and fondly, and his music will serve as fitting legacy.
Memorial services for Catney were held Monday in the La Fontaine Ballroom of the Wyndham Warwick Hotel, followed by a jam session at Museum Restaurant. Performances by friends and peers last Friday and Saturday nights at Cezanne were likewise dedicated to his memory. Catney was without insurance at the time of his death, and donations to help offset funeral costs may be made to the Dave Catney Memorial Fund by calling Linda McDill at Eclipse Entertainment, 524-8400.
Local Stuff... Thursday night, in case you haven't already penned it into your calendar, marks that annual date on which Mrs. Molly gets one year older and her legion of fans get drunk and rowdy in celebration. This year is billed as Number Five, and special musical guest-sorts include Bert Wills, Hadden Sayers, Norma Zenteno, The Basics, The Rounders, Feo y Loco and Murrell. Sounds like the Press Music Awards. Go anyway, at the European Tavern. Also Thursday night, The Swamis play at Munchies, and a new band called Black Spot, described by management as a Lenny Kravitz sorta rock thang, opens Party on the Plaza in Market Square. Also Thursday, alternative dance unit (what could that mean?) The Hunger makes one of its few-and-far-between Houston appearances at Kaboom. Opening for The Hunger is another local dance outfit called Number 9. Number 9 sent me a piece of 12-inch, 4-track vinyl a few months back, and I haven't had much of a chance to listen until this very moment. All I can say is that anyone who can earnestly croon "I don't understand why love has to hurt" over an undistinguished synth-rhythm can't have been paying much attention, but, umm, I suppose it might fly at Kaboom. Me, I'm going back to listening to the Carter Family for the rest of the column.
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Friday night, your Lollapalooza options are Trish and Darin and Banana Blender Surprise at the Satellite. Zwee and the Graveberries are at Munchies, Alamo Jets play the Mucky Duck, and ska-flamekeepers The Suspects open for the Voodoo Glow Skulls in a near requisite gig at the Abyss. Also on tap, country star-to-be Mary Cutrufello -- who some three months ago bucked the slow bleed and moved from Austin to Houston -- plays at the Brazos Bottom.
Saturday night, bilingual rockers The Basics celebrate the release of Cruzado on their own Tormenta label at the Satellite. Hadden Sayers opens for Hootie and the Blowfish at Fitzgerald's, and Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds play Dan Electro's. Herschel Berry helps inaugurate Mary Jane's and Stratus fusionizes the Ale House. Rudyard's hosts the Anglo-punk of Stretford and the jarringly poppish Wannabes on an all-Austin bill that you should see anyhow. The Wannabes have just released Mod Flower Cake on DejaDisc, and I like it. Also of note, The Walk-ins open for Pork at Zelda's.
Come Tuesday, my calendar says Sad Pygmy's playing at Hurricane Alley, which I find hard to believe, and a little distressing since I hate to work the car that hard -- but sources confirm the truth of it, so show up. Folk mainstay Don Sanders may be found at Munchies, and Harry Sheppard's still doing his still underrated vibe-thing at Munchies on Wednesdays.
But going back to Tuesday: that's the release date for Rubberneck, the Interscope debut of Dallas' Toadies. If you want a Houston connection, there's local Tom Bunch, who manages the band. I'll rave at further length at a later date, but if you're one of those sheep who just trust me, go ahead and buy the disk. Half my friends think it's more mid-tempo guitar rock crap, but it's the only unreleased music I've ever left on my answering machine that's caused not one but two callers to suspect that I might have all right taste.