Formed in 2015, the Meer Cats is made up of 6 of the finest early jazz specialists in London, playing the music of Duke Ellington’s bands of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Much of what we play is in the famous “JUNGLE STYLE”, with growling trumpet and trombone, haunting clarinet, swooping sax and african drum rhythms, however, there is much in our repertoire for the swing dancers. Come and hear us and expect the sounds of the Cotton Club in New York!
A list of some of what we play:
It Don’t Mean A Thing, Jungle Nights in Harlem, Digga Digga Do, Echoes of the Jungle, Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me, Old Man Blues, Jubilee Stomp, Jungle Jamboree, Eerie Moan, Caravan, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Mood Indigo, Sophisticated Lady, Six or Seven Times, The Mystery Song, Flaming Youth, East St Louis Toodle-oo, and many, many more.
All our music has been arranged for 6-piece line up by Ned Bennett. With each piece, he transcribes the essence of the original recording, and distills it down to fit our streamlined 6-piece line up. All the melodies, harmonies and rhythms are carefully replicated; it’s just that our musicians have to do the job of two in the Duke Ellington band (but we only charge a single fee!)
Although the Harlem Meer Cats play with authenticity, we treat every performance as a JAZZ gig. This means our priorities are high energy playing, great improvised solos, and a swing feel to rank with the very best.
What we do: we play great 1920s and 30s music to a knock-out standard.
What we don’t do: choreography, posh-voiced crooning and tea dances.
The Harlem meer Cats have played at many of London’s well known venues, including The Bull’s Head, The Crypt at St Martins, Dulwich Festival, The Spice of Life, Camberwell Crypt etc, and also the Swanage Jazz Festival, and some private events.
We are also well known on the swing dance circuit, for which we generally stick to more regular tempos and include great tunes such as Perdido, In A Mellow Tone, Black Beauty, I’m Beginning to See the Light etc.