Fred Katz was born on February 25, 1919. He was classically trained in the cello and piano and began his career in a number of classical and swing orchestras. Fred was also a student of the legendary cellist Pablo Casals. In the 1950s, he accompanied singers such as Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, and Frankie Laine. From 1955-58, he was a member of the Chico Hamilton Quartet. He recorded solo albums for Pacific Jazz, Warner Brothers and Decca Records (where he was also A&R director). In the 50s and 60s, he scored a number of films for Roger Corman including A Bucket of Blood, The Wasp Woman, and The Little Shop of Horrors. Fred went on to become a professor of cultural anthropology at the California State University at Northbridge, specializing in ethnic music. Fred is credited with bringing the cello into modern jazz and was one of the beacons of the Los Angeles jazz scene in the 1950s, fusing Jewish ritual, American Folk Songs, and African American traditions on his 1958 album Folk Songs for Far Out Folk.
The Idelsohn Society released Folk Songs for Far Out Folk in 2007. Fred played at our Jews on Vinyl Revue at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.