Fat-Suit are a large collective of young musicians who met while studying music in Glasgow. Still based in Glasgow, the band are making a real impact on the jazz scene in Scotland and they brought their instrumental juggernaut to Edinburgh's Voodoo Rooms on 4th March as part of a Scottish tour to promote their second album, "Jugaad".
Fat-Suit's thirteen-strong line-up for the night consisted of a four-piece brass section, two guitarists, two keyboard players, two fiddlers, two drummers/percussionists and a bassist. It would be fair to say that the band and their instruments made for a snug fit on the confines of the Voodoo Rooms stage…
The versatility of the line-up enables Fat-Suit to weave elements of funk, rock, folk and chamber music into their uncompromising modern jazz sound and create a richly satisfying musical stew. The venue was pleasingly full for this gig and Fat-Suit responded to the audience's clear enthusiasm by kicking into gear immediately with a pulsating opener, "Sound Logic". Like many of Fat-Suit's compositions, this featured infectious grooves and rhythms, punchy riffs and impressive soloing from individual band members. Indeed, given the complexity of the arrangments and the regular changes of tempo, the band's ensemble playing was quite breathtaking, owing much to the obvious chemistry between the individuals and the sheer joie-de-vivre of their playing. In spite of the intensity and high volume, the arrangements allowed the often intricate melodies to shine through and provided ample opportunity for the band to showcase their chops as solo players.
With a few exceptions, the set majored on the eleven excellent tunes on "Jugaad". All were played impeccably, but the full range of the band's individual and collective talents were perhaps best exemplified by the wondrous ebb and flow of "The First Man On The Sun"; the sparkling "Hypnic Jerk"; the catchily insistent "Don't Die Octopi"; and the delicious funk of "Mistaken For A Hat". Fat-Suit took the tempo right down on occasion, with a few lyrical, folk-tinged tunes, which highlighted the lovely fiddle/violin playing of the female string section. In April Lake", the strings soared gloriously above a plaintive guitar melody and the tune built to a kind of sedate hoe-down before reaching a soothing chamber music finale. "No Regrets" (from the first album, "Kambr") fused modern jazz with folk to sumptuous effect, recalling the superb Celtic jazz of Colin Steele's Stramash.
The girls took a well-earned breather during the extended workout of "Intensive Purposes". This tune (which closes the "Jugaad" album) was a tour-de-force, starting with moody guitar and keyboards over a menacingly loping bass riff, which paved the way for a succession of top-drawer solos. An interlude of elegant piano chords, sinuous bass and a soothing "ah ah" vocal chorus led into a blistering finish, with a stand-out bass solo and some blues guitar licks worthy of "Old Slowhand" himself.
Closing number, "Diversao", was a riot of musical colour. Hand-claps ushered in bouncy Latin horn riffs intercut with funky keyboard and guitar fills. The horn players all contributed searing solos, over irresistible percussion and organ runs, and the tune ended joyously with a towering, horn-led funk-fest reminiscent of the Brecker Brothers in their pomp.
"You do realise this is jazz you're listening to?!" joked one of the band, in acknowledging the audience's rapturous acclaim. Jazz it most certainly is, but Fat-Suit's music is so multi-textured and draws on so many other genres that it has a very wide appeal. Fat-Suit are the real deal and they look set to become prominent players on the Scottish music scene for some time to come.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
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