Formed in 2014, Black Cat Jazz is an exciting band combining some of the most accomplished jazz musicians from South Wales and the West Country who aim to perform music in an authentic New Orleans "Dance Hall" style.
Black Cat Jazz is inspired by the music created by musicians from New Orleans who came to prominence during the traditional jazz revival period of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. As our starting point, we select tunes that were played by Bunk Johnson, Punch Miller, George Lewis, Emmanuel Paul, the Humphrey brothers, Kids: Ory, Howard, Clayton and Thomas, amongst others too numerous to mention. We attempt to recreate the atmosphere of their great performances without directly copying or presenting a "museum piece".
We emphasise ensemble playing as opposed to individual instrument solos and wherever possible we play without amplification except for announcements and vocals. The New Orleans bands playing the dance halls were, for the most part, seated during their performance. The bands would need to be prepared to play a wide variety of current pop songs of the day, nostalgic songs from the turn of the 19th century, traditional jazz standards, parade tunes and even rock'n'roll and blues. They made the bulk of their income on tips that resulted from playing whatever requests came their way from the audience.
These are the practices of the musicians we seek to emulate, and we find that this produces an authentic and musical experience where the instruments find their own natural balance together.
We think the authenticity and quality of our approach speaks for itself and if you are interested in a tasteful and exciting musical experience based on the live performance of New Orleans jazz in the New Orleans "Dance Hall" style of the mid-20th Century, you will not be disappointed with Black Cat Jazz!
Musical direction and trumpet by Steve Graham
Tom Whittingham plays trombone and occasional euphonium
John Scantlebury blowing on clarinet and alto sax
Powerhouse drummer Pete Winterhart is the driving force behind the band
Sarah Thatcher laying down rock steady banjo and guitar
Spike Kennedy dynamic string bass slapping