Filthy - Mangy - Jazz
As unpredictable, fearless, and entertaining as their namesake, Le Chat Lunatique purveys an addictive genre they call “filthy, mangy jazz,” a signature sound that makes you want to smoke and drink too much—if only you could get off the dance floor. Le jazz hot of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli is their north star, but they use that beacon to navigate through a wide range of genres, blending Western swing, classical, reggae, d00-wop, and “anything else we damn well please” into strikingly original compositions and audaciously reworked standards alike.
Le Chat Lunatique is Muni Kulasinghe’s theatrical vocals, his violin skittering across the music like beads of water on a hot skillet—inspired as much by a legless Polish gypsy he encountered on his vagabond travels as by the great Grappelli. It’s the axe of guitarist John Sandlin, the classicist who fell under the sway of Reinhardt, felling bar after bar of music with ferocious dexterity. It’s the slap-happy bass and slyly sweet vocals of Jared Putnam, the sinisterly innocent one whose dark past embraces both death metal and Western swing. It’s the irresistibly deep-pocketed grooves of drummer Fernando Garavito, the mysterious and gracious Colombian who appeared by magic in New Mexico.
The group began prowling the nightspots of Albuquerque -that secret haven of hot jazz - back in 2005, spontaneously impregnating the ears of unsuspecting audience members, who found themselves unable to stop listening or dancing or making merry. From their earliest gigs, Le Chat Lunatique has offered swinging originals with ear-snagging hooks and stories to tell—well-constructed little gems that propagate earworms for ongoing pleasure. Devilishly clever lyrics offer insight into l’amour (“falling in love is like eating tacos”), a louche paean to a doting millionairess (“Buy me a Cadillac, buy me a yacht / Buy me everything that I haven’t got”), minatory observations on fate (“the bus of God will run you
over”), and the inevitable bitterness of a broken heart (“Miss Lady . . . please do me the courtesy of drinking in some other gin joint”).
The band’s repertoire also features original arrangements of tunes that stretch from kindergarten favorites (“Frère Jacques”) to pop hits (“Straight Up”) to swing anthems (“Minnie the Moocher”) to Reinhardt classics (“Blue Drag”). Every single tune is more than covered—it’s completely “Le-Chat-ified.” First, it’s dunked in the group’s collective musical subconscious, and then they play the hell out of it. Take, for example, Sandlin’s inspired gypsy jazz arrangement of Eric Satie’s Gnossienne No. 1 - over a reggae rhythm (say what?). Then there’s the medieval liturgical intro to “House of the Rising Sun,” which ultimately descends into transcendent desperation.
Riding the popularity of their acclaimed first CD, Demonic Lovely, which featured all original tunes, and their follow-up collection of covers, Under the Covers (Vol.1), Le Chat Lunatique has been inducing musical mania in an ever-widening circle—from the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, to the clubs of England, to the boards of the national theater in Novi Sad, Serbia, where they performed their commissioned score for Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental's ground breaking theatrical production Flamingo/Winnebago. In their home state of New Mexico, they’ve won award after award annually for best band, best jazz act, and best song.
Their irreverent humor, their intensity, and their expert musicianship will soon win them your acclamation as the best time you’ve ever had in public with your clothes on.
Accomplishments, Awards and Accolades
Weekly Alibi - “Best of Burque"
Best Band: 2008
Best Jazz Act: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
Best Avant-Garde: 3rd place, 2010
Local iQ - “Smart List”
Best Band: 2008, 2009, 2010
Best Jazz Act: 2008, 2009, 2010
Albuquerque the Magazine -“Best of the City”
Best Jazz Act: 2009
Best Band Headed for Stardom: 2008
Editors’s Pick: 2007
Winner: 2007 New Mexico Talent Showcase in the Jazz/blues/gospel division
Le Chat Lunatique’s 1st CD “Demonic Lovely” released in February 2008,
was nominated for SEVEN New Mexico Music Awards
Winner: Best Jazz Song - “Miss Lady"
SIGNIFICANT SHOWS and TOURS
2011: 23rd Internacional Festival de Jazz, Bogota, Colombia
2010: South by Southwest Showcase at the Elephant Room, Austin Texas
2009: Tucson Film and Music Festival-Hotel Congress Tucson, AZ
European Tour- 2 weeks in Serbia, one in England.
Performance of “Flamingo/Winnebago” at the National Theater, Novi Sad, Serbia
Le Petit Carnaval at the Fox Theater, Tucson, AZ
2008: Djangofest Colorado, Crested Butte, CO
Glendale Community College, Glendale, AZ
Summerfest, Opening for Cracker, Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque Folk Festival, Main Stage, Albuquerque, NM
2007: Painted Bride Theater, Premiere of “Flamingo/Winnebago," Philadelphia, PA
Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
Asleep at the Wheel, The Hot Club of San Francisco, The Djangomatics, The Red Elvises, Del Castillo, Marianne Dissard, John Jorgensen, Robin Nolan, Gonzalo Bergara, Stephane Wrembel, Cracker, Thrift Store Cowboys and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Commissioned to compose and performed original music for the play Flamingo/Winnebago, which has been performed in Colorado Springs, CO, Philadelphia, PA, Novi Sad, Serbia and Albuquerque, NM.
In 2007, 2008, and 2010 John Sandlin, who is endorsed by Manouche Guitars, organized the 2nd Annual, 3rd Annual, and 4th Annual New Mexico Django Festivals which were met with great
acclaim, and brought great artists such as Howard Alden and Stephane Wrembel to Albuquerque.