Part of Oct 2010 by
Le Chat Lunatique

Le Chat Lunatique at New Mexico Jazz Workshop

Le Chat Lunatique (whose name was loosely inspired by a “Beware Of Attack Cat” sign spotted on a French garden gate by LCL guitarist/vocalist John Sandlin) is a four piece experimental avant-garde Gyspy Swing (also known as “Jazz manouche”) band from New Mexico. They take influences from the French (Mainly Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli) and Italian styles as well as Latin jazz and Western Swing. They are as improvisational as they are traditional and describe their music as “filthy, mangy jazz.”  They are not afraid to wrangle with “˜Le-Chat-ifiying (their word) different styles.

Even so. They have several seemingly odd choices of songs on their latest cover album “Under the Covers Vol. 1″ ( which won the New Mexico Music Award for best cover). It includes the childrens song Frere Jacques, House of The Rising Sun by The Animals, and Straight Up by Paula Abdul.

Their calendar is full but I would like to direct you to their headlining slot at the New Mexico Jazz Workshop benefit at the historic El Rey Theater in downtown Albuquerque on November 6th entitled Le Jazz Hot: A Speak Easy Gala to Benefit New Mexico Jazz Workshops Youth Education Programs.

With a name that long you know its going to be good.

Le Chat Lunatique

Le Chat Lunatique

Everyone in Le Chat Lunatique performs vocals of some sort on all the various songs in their repertoire but the breakdown on instruments is: Muni Kulasinghe- Violin, John Sandlin- Guitar, Jared Putnam- Bass and Fernando Garavito- Drums. Muni Kulasinghe started playing violin when he was seven and by 14 was started on the Suzuki method (Also known as the mother-tongue method) of learning an instrument which basically boils down to learning an instrument in the same way you learned to speak – through immersion, encouragement, small steps, and an unforced timetable. By the time he was 18 he had traveled extensively through Europe and toured Mexico with the Albuquerque Youth Symphony. At college he played and toured Europe with the experimental group “Bowed Piano Ensemble.”

John Sandlin is a 17-year music veteran who received his Bachelor of Music degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2003 from the University of New Mexico. Along with Classical guitar he studied with  Michael Chapdelaine who is a professor at the University of New Mexico and is the only guitarist ever to win First Prize in the worlds top competitions in both the Classical and Finger-style genres.

Jared Putnam started out on the electric bass at the age of 13 by playing death metal (Feel free to snicker but for performing bass players its one of the most complicated and frantic forms of music) but by the end of high school he had moved onto prog-rock, jazz, and world music. During college he studied upright bass with Mark Tatum as well as performing with the Santa Fe Symphony and the Roswell Symphony. After college his music career got hitched to a rocket called Syd Masters and the Swing Riders who won 3 New Mexico MIC awards, played for President Vincente Fox of Mexico, as well as Prince Andrew the Duke of York, New Mexico Governor Richardson, and opened for Willie Nelson.

It was also during this very impressive bullet point in his resume where Jared Putnam also developed his love of the slap bass.

Fernando Garavito comes from Bogotá, Columbia where he started piano at 8 and the drums at 12. He moved to the states at 18 and New Mexico at the age of 20. Mostly self taught, his eclectic tastes in music which range from rock, pop, funk, ska, heavy metal, reggae, and the native traditional music of Columbia, through which he developed the split second twitch for switching between different musical styles that help make the Le Chat Lunatique live concert experience, well, fun.

Speaking of which, I may not be Shakespeare but I can build up a damn nice and shiny segue, Le Chat Lunatique have had several noteworthy shows this year including a standing ovation at the South by Southwest Showcase at the Elephant Room in Austin, Texas. This Friday at the El Rey, November 6th, I wont repeat the benefit name again. With a name that long you know its going to be a few sets.

Also performing that night will be Soul Kitchen featuring Hillary Smith & Chris Dracup. As well as a Burlesque show and a Charleston dance off. There is also an excellent menu of very enticing food that …sorry I saw “Corn Crab and Shrimp Bisque” and lost it.

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