Saxophonist Frank Catalano is happy to be playing in front of an audience again after his schedule was turned upside down last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Catalano will perform as part of the 10th annual St. Charles Jazz Weekend, presented by the St. Charles Business Alliance. The Kane County Chronicle and Kane County Magazine are sponsors of the event.
St. Charles Jazz Weekend will take place Sept. 9 to 12 at venues throughout downtown St. Charles. Catalano will perform from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 9 at The Filling Station Pub & Grill, 300 Main St., and from 3 to 5 p.m. Sept. 11 at the First Street Plaza.
For the full schedule of events, go to stcjazzweekend.com.
While still in high school, Catalano performed with Tony Bennett, Miles Davis and Stan Getz. He has roots in the area, having played with the Elgin Community College Jazz Band as an ECC student in 1999.
His vast résumé includes performing on three Grammy Award-winning and 11 Grammy-nominated recordings with artists including Jennifer Lopez, Destiny’s Child and John Legend.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Catalano about his illustrious career. The interview has been edited for length and style.
Eric Schelkopf: You’re probably busier this summer than last summer, right?
Frank Catalano: Last summer was very brutal because of things opening up and then closing down. This year has been pretty good.
I did a nice festival in New York a couple of weeks ago, and I have a week in Seattle coming up. I have a couple of gigs in France scheduled for April 2022.
Schelkopf: Last year you didn’t have many live gigs. How did you spend your time?
Catalano: I did write quite a bit. I used to sing a lot, and I kind of got back into that.
I did catch COVID, unfortunately. I had a 105-degree fever for about two weeks.
And, of course, it affects your lungs. It took a few months for me to feel normal again.
I caught it around the beginning of this year, and I didn’t feel decent until maybe April. And then I started doing shows again at that time.
It took a few months just to get my bearings. I just hope we all stay healthy. There’s that old saying: If you have your health, you have everything.
After getting something scary like that, it rings home pretty hard.
Schelkopf: Have you ever thought about writing about your experience with COVID?
Catalano: I’ve heard that I need to write a book or some type of short story or something to post. I probably will eventually, but I haven’t yet.
I still feel that we’re kind of in this, and we haven’t completely turned the corner and eradicated all these viruses, so I feel I would be premature if I wrote too much.
I could say this for sure – I didn’t realize that it was going to be as bad as it was. I’m fully vaccinated now, but at the time, vaccines weren’t out yet.
We got vaccinated in April, and that was a few months after I had it. I do know some people who don’t want to get the vaccine for whatever personal reason. I never like telling people what to do, but this is one of those times that I would say to everyone that they have to get vaccinated because there is really no way around it at this point. We have to protect each other.
Schelkopf: Why do you like performing at Jazz Weekend?
Catalano: It’s always good vibes with tons of nice people. I love playing at The Filling Station.
And the outdoor show I like because a lot of times my family and friends from the area that I don’t get to see much will show up.
Schelkopf: So when you play during Jazz Weekend, should people expect any new music?
Catalano: There’s quite a few things that I started trying out just before COVID. We’re going to do a few originals.
I do like to mix it up with half originals and half standards, and for sure some originals will be from my next album.
Schelkopf: Have you noticed that audiences are even more grateful for being able to hear live music this year? Are they even more excited about hearing live music this year?
Catalano: At pretty much every show I’ve done this year, people are on their feet. They are having such a good time and just happy that live music is back.