Fat Cat Big Band: Prayer for Unconditional Love

Track

Prayer for Unconditional Love

Group

Fat Cat Big Band

CD

Meditations on the War for Whose Great God is the Most High You are God (Smalls SRCD-0042)

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Musicians:

Jade Synstelien (guitar, composer),

Fat Cat Big Band with soloist Stacy Dillard (tenor sax)

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Composed and arranged by Jade Synstelien

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Recorded: New York, July 15 or 16, 2008

Albumcovermeditationsonthewar-fatcatbigband

Rating: 85/100 (learn more)

Fat Cat Big Band reminds me of bands led by Horace Silver (on his 1975 album Silver and Brass) and to a lesser extent David Murray (his Live at Sweet Basil albums from the late '80s). Like those groups, Fat Cat isn't a full-grown behemoth. It's a cut-down big band, with three saxes, two trumpets, and two trombones instead of the usual four or five of each. Such a relatively compact alignment lessens the threat of elephantine grandiosity.

Fat Cat's leader and composer, guitarist Jade Synstelien, writes nice, melodic tunes with colorful harmonies; he favors finesse over power. "Prayer for Unconditional Love" well represents his work: a jazz waltz with a Middle-Eastern tinge, a tuneful melody is supported by tight harmonies in the horns and a lightly swinging rhythm section. The arrangement is simpleóbasically head-solo-head, with tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard taking the middle section. Formal complexity doesn't concern Synstelien as much as writing attractive melodies with interesting harmonies and orchestrations.

The band plays with a loose precision that suits the rather casual air of Synstelien's style. No delusions of grandeur here. Fat Cat might have a Kenton-lover checking the batteries in his hearing aid. A Birth of the Cool fan, on the other hand, might dig this music very much.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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