298

Fat Cat Big Band: Meditations On The War...

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Fat Cat Big Band: Meditations On The War... 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 to New York in 2001. His 11-piece Staring Into The Sun Orchestra took on the name of this ten thousand square foot pool hall, that became the spillover club for the aptly named Small's jazz club. During the summer of 2008, Synstelien and his big band recorded 31 original tunes which will ultimately be released on three CDs. The music is infused with the jazz tradition once requisite for all big bands. The music had to make listeners want to shake their derriere and this recording surely does.

The 11 musicians limit their solos here; instead, they mesh solos tightly within the clever arrangements. Synstelien has the knack of steering a big band like a much smaller outfit—turning phrases quickly and dosing out the power of his band in a most understated way. The opening "Samantha Swing" begins with Synstelien's solo guitar spilling into what could be a Les Brown dance track for the '60s. Synstelien's music has a knowledge of the dance band tradition with the snark of Charles Mingus' writing. His "F*ck The Man (Please Vote)" sprints along as a bebop burner before the chant of "boo George Bush," "boo Nazi fascist supremacist" and "boo Klu Klux Klan" are shouted. In between there are frugal and spare solos by musicians that one day will become household names.

So what does make a big band special? Is it the writing, arranging or performance? In the case of the Fat Cat Big Band, the answer is yes, yes, and yes.

Track Listing: Samantha Swing; Prayer For Togetherness (Kimana); Phil Stewart Figures Out Ofer Landsberg Playin

Personnel: Jade Synstelien: electric guitar, vocals; Phil Stewart: drums; Ben Meigners: bass; Jack Glottman: piano; Stacy Dillard: tenor saxophone; Geoff Vidal: tenor saxophone; Tatum Greenblatt: trumpet; Brandon Lee: trumpet; Jonathan Voltzok: trombone; Max Seigel: bass trombone; Sharel Cassity: alto saxophone.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Smalls Records | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Holiday On Fire CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Calvins Toboggan CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Silent Light CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read PausaLive CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Petal" CD/LP/Track Review Petal
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 6, 2016
Read "The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald" CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 21, 2016
Read "Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana" CD/LP/Track Review Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review Horizonte
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "2-Man Jazz Band" CD/LP/Track Review 2-Man Jazz Band
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Chant" CD/LP/Track Review Chant
by Nicola Negri
Published: December 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!