Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fat Cat Big Band's Third

Guitarist, jazz composer and arranger Jade Synstelien has a big band named Fat Cat. They've now released the third of their trilogy of CDs, Face (Smalls), and it is a good one. For reviews of the other two in the series check out the postings on my other site at

This is not a hearkening back to the old days of the big bands, nor is it particularly avant garde. Rather it has a twisty-turning nubop-nobop take on things. That is to say, it has been informed by developments in jazz from bop and after onwards, yet there is no copycat simulacra presence on their agenda.

They swing and execute like the Dickens, they have some very good soloists (like Sharel Cassity on alto) but it's Synstelien's charts that really make the band something hip.

He has a most eccentric vocal style which he unleashes on several numbers. It is an acquired taste. I've acquired it.

The rest are hard charging instrumentals and a balladic interlude or two. This is one of the most interesting big bands to emerge in recent years. I am rather taken with Mr. Synstelien's music. You might be as well. The only way to know for sure is to listen!

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