“Blues for Borden,” from the album Face
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About the Fat Cat Big Band
The Fat Cat Big Band has been described by All About Jazz as “one of the most refreshing groups to come along in years” and praised by Jazz Times “for adding to the legacy of big band music rather than emulating its past glories.” With an eleven-piece lineup that includes members of the Mingus, Vanguard, Roy Hargrove, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestras, the FCBB has drawn over a decade of comparisons to the iconic big bands of Ellington, Basie, Mingus, Quincy Jones, and Lionel Hampton.
Despite the analogies, the Fat Cat Big Band embodies a spirit entirely its own. The band is driven by the unstoppable energy of Jade Synstelien, who leads from the guitar chair with singular passion. The fierce originality of his compositions and arrangements are met by consistently heart-stopping, full-throttle performances from each player in the band. Through preternatural arranging savvy and a seemingly bottomless well of passion, the Fat Cat Big Band does with eleven musicians what other big bands struggle to achieve with nearly two dozen.
Jade Synstelien Guitar, composition, arrangements
Phil Stewart Drums
Dan Blankinship Trumpet
Brandon Lee Trumpet
James Burton, III Trombone
Max Seigel Bass Trombone
Alexi David Bass
Jack Glottman Piano
Jon Irabagon Tenor & Soprano Sax
Jonathan Beshay Tenor Sax
Caleb Curtis Alto Sax, Flute
Diana “Little Bird” Hickman Vocals
Studio and Live Tracks
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“What does make a big band special? Is it the writing, the arranging, or the performance? In the case of the Fat Cat Big Band, the answer is yes, yes, and yes.”
Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
“The music swings hard, and the soloists light a fire inside Syntelien’s challenging charts. With the infectious content of the FCBB discs, Synstelien puts his money where his mouth is, bringing highly developed arranging craft to music of marked accessibility.”
Michael Steinman, Cadence
“Packed with strong writing and lush arrangements. [Synstelien] and the band deserve high marks for adding to the legacy of big band music rather than emulating its past glories. Synstelien and crew definitely know how a modern, innovative big band should sound.”
Mike Shanley, Jazz Times
“An intriguing blend of power and delicacy … Achieves a rare intimacy.”
Shaun Brady, Downbeat
“These CD’s should be widely known—for the FCBB’s conception, the soloists, and the writing. This is energizing music.”
Michael Steinman, Cadence
Watch more at the Fat Cat Big Band’s YouTube channel.
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