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David Katz is an American author, music journalist, photographer, A&R consultant, disc jockey and reggae historian.
Katz is author of People Funny Boy: The Genius of Lee "Scratch" Perry, Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae, and Caribbean Lives: Jimmy Cliff. He contributed to the Rough Guide to Reggae, A Tapestry of Jamaica, I-Land Reggae: From Heartbeat to Revolution, Caribbean Popular Music: An Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady and Dancehall, Les Origins Du Reggae: Retour Aux Sources, Keep On Running: The Story of Island Records, International Reggae: Current and Future Trends in Jamaican Popular Music andInvernomuto: Negus. His writing and photographs have appeared in many international publications, including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Newsweek, Mojo, Q, The Wire, XLR8R, Rhythm, Wax Poetics, Riddim, Sky Writings, Caribbean Beat and Murder Dog. Katz has coordinated and annotated over 100 retrospective collections of Jamaican music for labels such as Island, Universal, Trojan, Motion, Ariwa, Heartbeat, Wall of Sound, Nuphonic, Strut, Hot Milk, Iroko and Auralux, has released an original record in France, and has co-hosted reggae radio programmes on three continents for stations such as Kiss, Xfm, BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, Mojo Radio, WBAI, and KUSF.
Katz has contributed to several radio and television documentaries, including Blood & Fire: Roots, Reggae, Rastafari (BBC Radio 2, 2007), Tighten Up: The Trojan Story (BBC Radio 2, 2006), Can’t Take It With You: Bob Marley (BBC Bristol, 2003), Pioneers: Lee Perry (Channel 4, 2002), and Choice World Clubbing (BBC Choice, 2000). He co-scripted the narration for Don Letts and Rick Elgood's documentary Return of the Super Ape (Channel 4, 1997) and contributed to the feature documentaries Dub Stories (UWE, France, 2006), Dub Echoes (Brazil, 2007), I Am The Gorgon: Bunny 'Striker' Lee and the Roots of Reggae(Kingston Sounds, 2014), Les Racines du Reggae Jah Rastafari (Arte, 2015) and Lee "Scratch" Perry's Vision of Paradise (Fufoo Film, 2015). Katz was an Associate Producer on the feature documentary The Upsetter: The Music And Genius of Lee Scratch Perry (Upsetter Films, 2008) and was a music consultant on the feature film Dreaming Lhasa (White Crane Films, India/UK, 2005).
Katz holds a regular residency as a disc jockey, presenting his "Dub Me Always" nights at the Ritzy in Brixton, hosting guest selectors such as Dennis Bovell, Festus Coxsone and Gladdy Wax, as well as MCs such as Brother Culture and Tenor Fly. He has DJed at the Jazz Cafe with Lee Scratch Perry, Aswad and Horace Andy, at the Hootenany with The Heptones at the Royal Festival Hall and Great Eastern Dining Room as part of the Lee Scratch Perry Meltdown, and at Momo with Mad Professor. He has spun records at New York's NuBlu with Ras Kush and the Black Redemption Sound System, played in the Skaville Circus tent at Reggae Geel in Belgium, and was a guest DJ on the Bingi night held at Bar Clandestino in Rio, at Clup Open in Tokyo with Big H, at Night Wax in Osaka with Pirate's Choice and with DJ War at Il Porticcolo in Salento, Italy, as well as at select functions in France for the I-Land Festival in 2004, for which he was also partly responsible for securing performances by King Jammy, Admiral Bailey, King Stitt, Jim Brown, the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari and others. He has also been involved in the "Reggae University" at the annual Rototom Sunsplash Festival in Osoppo, Italy, conducting workshops with Bunny Wailer, Chris Blackwell, The Skatalites, Steel Pulse Horace Andy, Fully Fullwood, Junior Marvin, Dean Fraser, Etana, Alborosie, Jah Shaka, Beenie Man, David Rodigan and Zion Train, among others. Katz has chaired discussions with artists such as Bob Andy and The Pioneers at the Reggae Geel festival in Belgium, and has given presentations on reggae and dub at the Ostroda Reggae Festival in Poland.
Katz has given presentations about Jamaican music at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, and presented the final plenary, together with Sly Dunbar, at the second International Reggae Conference held at UWI in February 2010. He chaired a special session with King Jammy, Bobby Digital and Bunny Lee at the third International Reggae Conference, held at UWI in February 2012, and participated in a panel discussion there with Earl Chinna Smith, Jah9, Dutty Boukman and Protoje that year. At the 2015 conference he chaired a roundtable discussion with Max Romeo, Niney the Observer and Tappa Zukie. He gave the closing plenary at the 6th symposium of the Centre for Caribbean Studies in Brazil (CECAB), held at the Federal University of Maranhao, Sao Luis, in November 2010, addressed students at the University of Lecce in Italy in May 2011, and at the University of Naples in 2015.
Originally from San Francisco, he has been a London resident for many years.
- People Funny Boy: The Genius of Lee "Scratch" Perry (2000)
- Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae (2003)
- Jimmy Cliff: An Unauthorised Biography (2011)