Smitty: Visiting JazzMonthly.com is one of the coolest cats in the business. His name certainly befits himself, and he’s got a great label and some wonderful people working with him, and I’m just stoked to have him join us here at JazzMonthly.com. With an incredible roster of musicians, they have been in the middle of so many great hits, terrific events and so many great things musically, and you’ll certainly recognize this great cat and this wonderful label that he represents. They are celebrating five years of doing what they do best. Please welcome the President of Rendezvous Entertainment, Mr. Hyman Katz. Hyman, how ya doin’, my friend?
Hyman Katz (HK): I’m doing great, Smitty. Thanks for such a lovely introduction.
Smitty: Oh, man, it’s my pleasure and that was straight from the pump, you know? (Both laugh.)
HK: God, you’re good at what you do.
Smitty: Thank you. Well, it is certainly a pleasure to talk with you, man, and to talk about the great things that you’ve done over so many years.
HK: I want to thank you for all the great things that you’ve been doing for this music and for the genre. Your passion is just so inspiring. I think the thanks really goes to you, buddy.
Smitty: Oh, man, thanks so much. I really appreciate that. That means a lot coming from you. Wow, so now you guys, first of all, there’s a great congratulations in order here. Rendezvous Entertainment….You cats are celebrating five years of putting it out there, and I mean really getting the music out there and you’ve consistently done that with a great deal of fervor and class. Congratulations, man.
HK: Thanks, Smitty. We’re all really proud.
Smitty: Absolutely. So now I remember you in particular—just putting the spotlight on you for a minute—I can remember meeting you when you were with….Unity.
HK: Yes, I was with Unity Entertainment, which was an independent, several years ago, that was responsible for Keiko Matsui, Paul Taylor, Soul Ballet, some other really exciting artists.
Smitty: Yeah, man, and that was a beautiful time as well. So talk to me about how this great union of Rendezvous evolved. How did it happen?
HK: Yeah, okay, great question. It really started with Dave Koz and I had a long friendship with Dave that actually predated our music years. Let’s see, it’s a long story. (Both laugh.) My mom worked for Dave’s dad and Dave’s father was a dermatologist.
HK: And my mom worked in his office, was an office manager, and our families knew each other for years, and then everyone went their own ways and Dave’s mom and my mom remained really good friends—Audrey, and my mom is Lillian—and they tried to get us together basically. When I moved back to Los Angeles, my mom was like “You know, you should really look up Dave Koz, he’s into music, he’s a musician,” and Audrey was saying “You should look up Hyman Katz, he just graduated from Berklee and he’s in the music business,” and, yeah, this was when Dave was playing with Jeff Lorber, and so we finally reconnected and stayed in touch and became buddies again.
And when Dave was signed to Capitol, he was watching some of the things that Unity was doing with Keiko and we were achieving great sales success, and the idea eventually came up that the two of us should work together one day, and Dave wanted to start a label and eventually the time was right and we started working together, and then it was actually Dave who had the great idea to invite Frank Cody to join the partnership, knowing that Frank was going to be leaving Broadcast Architecture soon, and thought that Frank’s incredible musical knowledge and experience in media would be a fantastic third leg of this stool, this chair, and that was it.
Smitty: Wow. How cool was that.
HK: I was like “Yeah, I know Frank Cody. That would be awesome.” And we all met in Ojai to invite Frank to join us and we made the offer to Frank and he was like “I’m in,” so it was just a pretty magical weekend.
Smitty: Yeah. In fact, I remember when all of that was first announced and the buzz was there’s a new dream team.
HK: Yeah, right. (Both laugh.)
Smitty: Because all of you guys, when you really look back before forming this great union of Rendezvous, you all had great success in what you were doing, so to bring you all together was truly a dream team at the time and still is to this day.
HK: Yeah, it’s really special. It’s a unique blend of talents and we’ve all, through the years, learned from each other and it’s really special.
Smitty: Yeah. So what was the first project out the door?
HK: The first project we did was Golden Slumbers - A Father’s Lullaby.
HK: And we did that as a production deal with Warner Brothers and Matt Pierson assigned it to Warner Brothers, and that was the first project and the idea behind that was to really—we identified this changing role that dads had in the caretaking of their kids, and at about the same time a lot of the artists that were in our extended family, like Peter White, Rick Braun and Norman Brown and David Benoit, were all dads and some of them new dads, and so we created this idea and it was our first release and it was actually nominated for a Grammy, which we were really proud about too.
Smitty: Yeah, I was gonna say that it really garnered a lot of attention because nothing like that had been done to that degree, which was a really cool thing.
HK: Yeah, thanks. It was a real labor of love and a real family project, and Jeff Koz, Dave’s brother, was a big force in that project, so it was really just a wonderful extended family affair, just great.
Smitty: Yeah, and now look at you, just moving forward. I mean, look at what you’ve accomplished. Do you ever at any time look back and say “Man, look at where we are” and “Wow, we’ve come a long way”?
HK: Yeah, yeah, I do. (Laughs.) It’s always, sure, it feels great and we have certainly grown and done some wonderful things, and there’s always the sense of there’s so much more to be done.