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Fat Cat Big Band

The Fat Cat Big Band is a musical pride of eleven lions in their own fields, fueled by the dynamic creative leadership of guitarist, composer, and arranger Jade Synstelien.

Synstelien was born on August 17th, 1974, in Minneapolis. A musician, composer, arranger, and band leader, Jade picked up the alto sax at age eleven but traded it for a guitar at thirteen. He grew up traveling and living all over the United States, and has worked as a professional musician since the age of fifteen, he has become well-versed in all styles of musical performance. Synstelien began composing when he was 13 and by 17 was scoring music for big bands, funk and dance bands, world beat, and reggae bands, and eventually large-scale symphonic jazz works. Ready to form the band that could execute any ideas he could compose, he strove to combine tradition with innovation and offer up something that musicians and audiences would love equally.

In June of 2001 Jade moved to New York City from Taos, NM, yearning to learn from the jazz elders and living legends and to finally form this new orchestra. Mitch Borden, owner of the historic Smalls club, gave Jade the opportunity to have a place to form, rehearse, and perform with his band. The result was a steady Tuesday night gig at his new offshoot club, Fat Cat, in September 2001, originally billed as The Staring into the Sun Orchestra.

After many gigs and years of developing the band and filling it with the greatest rising talent in New York, in 2006 Synstelien renamed his orchestra The Fat Cat Big Band, which performs exclusively his original compositions and arrangements in full swinging force every Sunday evening to this day.

Jade has the singular goal of bringing American musical heritage to the people of the U.S., to spread the understanding and pride in our major cultural contribution to the world. Jazz and all the music born of the jazz tradition is the truest example of real equality and unification for all people of the earth.


Album Review
  • Face by Edward Blanco
  • Face by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
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"What makes a great big band record? … Is it the writing, arranging, or performance? In the case of the Fat Cat Big Band, the answer is yes, yes, and yes."
Mark Corroto, AllAboutJazz.com

"This has to be one of the best, and one of the hippest big bands out there today."
Grego Applegate Edwards

"With strong writing, lush arrangements, some humor and some political venting ... Synstelien and crew definitely know how a modern, innovative big band should sound." Mike Shanley, Jazz Times

"These two releases should establish Synstelien as a significant writer and the Fat Cat Big Band as one of the most refreshing groups to come along in years."
Duck Baker, All About Jazz

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Smalls Records



Megaphone Records


Angels Praying For...

Megaphone Records




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