Fat Cat Big Band: Samantha Swing
Fat Cat Big Band
Meditations on the War for Whose Great God is the Most High You are God (Smalls SRCD-0042)
Jade Synstelien (guitar, composer),
Fat Cat Big Band featuring soloist Max Seigel (trombone).
Composed and arranged by Jade Synstelien.
Recorded: New York, July 15 or 16, 2008
Rating: 87/100 (learn more)
Not many big bands are fronted by guitarists. Maybe that's because big bands are typically maintained by composers who need an outlet for their music. Not many guitarists fit that profile. Fat Cat Big Band and Jade Synstelien are mutual exceptions. The 11-piece group (named for the Greenwich Village pool hall/jazz club that serves as its home base) is led by Synstelien, an ambitious guitarist/composer whose music is a good-humored, sophisticated blend of the old and the modern. "Samantha Swing" combines Synstelien's unruly, inside-out guitar style with a composition that incorporates Basie-like riffs and bebop (and beyond) harmonic schemes. Trombonist Max Seigel channels Tricky Sam Nanton with a tongue-in-cheek plunger solo, but it's Synstelien's hyperactive, harmonically audacious improvising over the riffing horns that defines the band's all-inclusive style. This performance is loose in all the right ways. It sounds good and feels even better.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey