Face is an album with layers. Each of the ten tracks offers a nuanced explication of anticipation, heartbreak and spirituality. The glistening veneer of giddiness and celebration is attractive and reviving. But if you listen closely, there's also yearning and loneliness and a grasping for spiritual fulfillment. The entire album is soulful in the way some popular, accessible poets are soulful--you respond viscerally to the beauty of the art and only careful revisits will teach you how to appreciate it in its entirety. The splendid arrangements are the backbone to the album, but the musicians are the ...read more
The house band of New York's Fat Cat jazz club in the West Village, The Fat Cat Big Band, finally delivers the last piece of its trilogy project. Face is produced from a 2008, two-night recording session of thirty-one original charts, from which the group's first two albums--Meditations On the War For Whose Great God is the Most High / You Are God (Smalls, 2009) and Angels Praying for Freedom (Smalls, 2009)--were released simultaneously. The eleven-member light ensemble, the brainchild of guitarist/composer/bandleader Jade Synstelien, taps into America's rich musical heritage, breathing life into the swing music of the past, albeit ...read more
What makes a great big band record? Is it the writing or the arranging? Or maybe it is the playing of the musicians, which of course is the product of both the writing and the arranging.
Certainly a big band (like, say, a quartet) produces great music when it performs regularly as a working unit. For composer/arranger/guitarist Jade Synstelien, the opportunity to present big band jazz every week at New York's Fat Cat jazz club to upwards of a thousand listeners at a time yields the results heard here.
This extraordinary effort began with Synstelien's move ...read more