Take Off Collective members Ole Mathisen (sax), Matthew Garrison (bass) and Marko Djordjevic (drums) became friends at Boston’s Berklee College of Music as the second millennium was winding down. Since then, they have built careers as bandleaders; sidemen to world renown notables as well as unique and innovative instrumentalist.
Their eclectic tastes, penchant for honest and unpremeditated improvisation and a thirty-year strong friendship brought them to a musical situation different from any other they have taken part in to date.
Neither leaders nor sidemen, they are real-time composers and performers of music that is invented on stage in front of an audience. Their music has been described as virtuosic, adventurous, intense, innovative, disorienting, provocative, engaging…
Each Take Off Collective concert is a moment ceasing, supremely intimate, music-transcending event.
The Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats LIVE from Shapeshifter Lab
Monday, April 12 at 7pm
The Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats (aka the Fat Cats) are the pre-professional training ensembles of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA). Founded by Arturo O’Farrill in 2012, the Fat Cats is a free program, made up of three ensembles (two combos and a big band) of students from across the city who audition to join and rehearse every Sunday. They are instructed by members of the Grammy award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Jim Seeley and Bam Rodriguez, as well as Zack O’Farrill, Director of Education Programs at ALJA. Fat Cats offers students a unique opportunity to learn repertoire that is not taught to any other high school-aged ensemble, focusing on Afro Latin music by composers from different countries and different generations.
For this live-streamed performance, all three Fat Cat ensembles will be performing live from Shapeshifter Lab, their new home in Brooklyn as of October 2020. They’ll be playing music by Dafnis Prieto, Egberto Gismonti, Wes Montgomery, Mario Bauza, and many more.
The Fat Cats
The Fat Cats (short for the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats) is the collection of pre-professional youth ensembles of the non-profit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance. Founded in 2010 by ALJA’s Artistic Director, Arturo O’Farrill, in the Greenwich Village’ basement billiards and jazz club, the Fat Cats, these ensembles are made up of some of the city’s finest young musicians hailing from all over the five boroughs, forming two small ensembles and a big band. Under the direction of Director of Education Programs Zack O’Farrill, as well as Jim Seeley (trumpet soloist with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra) and Bam Bam Rodríguez (bassist with the ALJO), the Fat Cats perform works from the Latin jazz repertory as well as standard jazz pieces.
Participation in the orchestra requires students to concentrate into musical studies, with the aim of moving further into advanced fields at specialized colleges and conservatories. Previous members have been accepted in music schools such as New England Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, McGill University and the Music Conservatory of SUNY at Purchase, New York.
The 2020-2021 season was marked by the beginning of a new partnership with Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn, where the Fat Cats began weekly rehearsals in October taking extensive precautions aimed enabling in-person rehearsal while preventing the spread of COVID-19. The Fat Cats have performed at venues around New York City such as the Brooklyn Museum, New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, the Frick Collection, the Greene Space at WNYC, Shapeshifter Lab, BRIC House, and Birdland jazz club in New York City.