Fats Jazz Band: Jazz swings over the blue Danube

When you think about Slovakia’s music, you are bound to imagine folklore songs or perhaps symphony orchestras, but not jazz bands. However, the famous FATS JAZZ BAND has forged a great reputation for itself among fans and critics, both in Slovakia and abroad. Although the Fats Jazz Band has only been around for four years, they have many supporters throughout Europe. They perform regularly in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Croatia and Italy.

The FATS JAZZ BAND is a first class nine-member swing orchestra steeped in the jazz and swing music of the late 1930s and early 1940s. It was started by Ladislav Fanzowitz, one of Slovakia’s best pianists. The orchestra plays original swing music which transports you to another world, gets your blood moving and takes you back to the era of elegance, glamourous gowns and riotous parties. During the performance and recordings, the orchestra wanted to get as close as possible to an authentic sound, so there is no overdubbing and the musicians play vintage instruments to achieve a soft and captivating sound. In November 2012, the Fats Jazz Band won the prize for the best collective stylish interpretation in the New Slovak Jazz Faces competition.

To remain authentic, Ladislav Fanzowitz gives the audience a unique opportunity to listen to the original arrangements as played by jazz legends in their time. Furthermore, the FATS JAZZ BAND also uses a reconstructed array of musical instruments and wears vintage clothes. In short, the orchestra portrays the period of music and style of the FATS JAZZ BAND to perfection. The band’s repertoire includes the most interesting pieces from the legends of American jazz and swing such as Thomas “Fats” Waller whose nickname was borrowed as the band’s title. However, the FATS JAZZ BAND also plays songs by other remarkable jazz legends of the period such as Louis Armstrong, Teddy Wilson, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Clarence Williams, Ella Fitzgerald and Tommy Dorsey.

Sense of euphoria, happiness and joy

Despite the apparent anachronism, the orchestra’s presence suggests something unmistakably timeless. The FATS JAZZ BAND takes an antiquated template and infuses it with the immediacy of the present. The main thing that gave the music of this era its magic was spontaneity, and this is undoubtedly recreated by the FATS JAZZ BAND. The band members are professional musicians and singers active in Slovakia’s leading orchestras and major bands such as the Slovak Philharmonic, the Gustav Brom Big Band, the Matúš Jakabčic Big Band, the Bratislava Hot Serenaders, CZ – SK Big Band, and the Orchestra of the Slovak National Theatre.

The era between the two world wars is known in the USA as the “GOLDEN AGE”, partly because of the major scientific and technological advances and new inventions, but mostly because of film and the boom in the entertainment industry. Despite 1929’s Black Friday on the stock market, a high proportion of unemployed people, difficult living conditions and the constant influx of immigrants arriving from Europe, the USA knew how to enjoy music. All these aspects influenced music, which people wanted to use to forget their worries. Therefore, the music captures a sense of euphoria, happiness and joy.

In 2012, the FATS JAZZ BAND released their debut CD named “…IN FATS WALLER’S RHYTHM…”, which consists of unique recreations of authentic recordings by legendary pianist, composer, singer and entertainer Thomas “Fats” Waller and his groups from 1928 to 1943. In 2014, the orchestra released a second album named TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY, including the best pieces from their current repertoire.