All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Fat Cat Big Band

Fat Cat Big Band 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.

Read more


Album Review
  • Face by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
  • Face by Edward Blanco
Read more articles
”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,

“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

“This performance is loose in all the right ways

Read more



Album Face by Fat Cat Big Band


Smalls Records



Megaphone Records


Angels Praying For...

Megaphone Records




Stan Getz Stan Getz
saxophone, tenor
Glenn Miller Glenn Miller
Thad Jones Thad Jones
Woody Shaw Woody Shaw
City Rhythm Orchestra City Rhythm Orchestra
Frank Sinatra, Jr. Frank Sinatra, Jr.
voice / vocals
Microscopic Septet Microscopic Septet
Vince Giordano Vince Giordano
Swingadelic Swingadelic

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.