Darrell Katz

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Career Highlights
  • Founder and director, Jazz Composers Alliance
  • Recordings include I'm Me and You're Not, the JCA Sax Quartet (Brownstone Recordings); Flux, Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, (Northeastern Records); Dreamland (Cadence Jazz Records); The Death of Simone Weil, Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra (Innova Recordings); In, Thru and Out (Cadence Jazz Records); and Celebration of the Spirit (C.I.M.P.)
  • BMI Jazz Composers Workshop
  • Recipient of grants from the NEA
  • Recipient of grants from Meet the Composer
  • Recipient of grants from American Music Center
  • Recipient of grants from Arts Lottery
  • Recipient of grants from Aaron Copland Fund
  • Recipient of Massachusetts Artist Fellowship
  • Recipient of an NEA Fellowship
In Their Own Words

"At Berklee, I was kind of in awe of all my teachers. I tend to remember those who were really good for me in different ways. Herb Pomeroy was brilliant at teaching. He was very precise, very exact. He had rules all laid out and you did what he said, the way he said to do it. But it wasn't just about regurgitating facts; he was passionate about what he thought, and he convinced you. Phil Wilson couldn't have been more different. He was much less structured. But he was really encouraging. When I was unsure of myself and terrified, he seemed to understand where I was at, and he pushed me in positive ways. It was good to have both kinds of teachers."

"I consider my own style to be somewhere between the two. I certainly want my students to be accurate and precise. I routinely tell them, 'If you want someone to play what you put on the page, you have to put what you meant. It's got to be right.' Things like putting in key signatures, or accidentals—it may seem kind of trivial, but it's important to be accurate and to care about what you're doing."

"When we study chord scales in Harmony 3, I don't so much want students to memorize a list of the scales they need to know. Instead I want them to understand why somebody says, 'This is the chord scale for this purpose in this time and place.' I really want them to get the philosophy behind it. I feel that if they understand how it's put together, they can come up with the exact scales later, as opposed to just memorizing the information."

"Before I started teaching Advanced Modal Harmony, I took the course with someone who's totally different from me: very exact and precise. I was really into it when I took his class—it was fun. But then when I tried to teach the course the same way, it seemed really boring. I thought to myself, 'How could anybody possibly want to hear this? I don't even want to hear me say this.' I couldn't do it trying to be like him. So gradually I evolved my own take on it, incorporating things that came more directly from my own experiences as a composer, and that worked really well."