Nine Lives

Cat's A Bear; the Erie jazz group, has been quiet of late,
but that's about to change.

PREVIEW by John Chacona
Contributing writer

At 23 years, the jazz quartet Cat's A Bear is one of the longest-lived bands on the Erie scene.
You've never heard of them? Don't feel bad. They haven't always been known as Cat's A Bear (they haven't always been a quartet, nor have they always been in Erie for 20 years, either).
And if you haven't heard them, that's because the members have been busy doing other things of late.
But that's about to change, beginning this weekend at Scotty's, when the band returns to the Erie scene for a busy couple of months of club gigs, concerts, and working as sidemen for high-profile jazz soloists.
So why the long absence?
"Time," said founding member Joe Dorris, a fitting response from a drummer with a clutch of active young daughters.
"I was busy doing this," bassist Tony Stefanelli explained, gesturing to the roomy cafe at Romolo Chocolates, which he founded a dozen years ago, and where I talked with the band members.
Fair enough. And that doesn't even take into account founding
Cat Frank Singer, a guitarist and a fixture at Papermoon when he's not touring with One World Tribe. Or saxophonist Phil Papotnik, who as the ubiquitous owner of Raven Sound, may deserve the title of Hardest Working Man in Erie Show Business.
There's a fifth member, the mysterious Tito (otherwise known as percussionist Nick Ronzitti), who lent his nickname to the band for two of their three CDs, and who will be with the group for a busy fall.

So, guys, why so busy and why
"Tony and I play at Papermoon, sometimes together, sometimes with other musicians, but Frank's Web site had a lot to do with it.
People were downloading Cat's A Bear songs, and we're getting airplay in Texas, Colorado, and France. So people are looking for us."
They won't have to look hard to find the band, at least in the near future, and in Erie. In addition to the Scotty's date tomorrow, Cat's A Bear, with saxophonist Valerie Gillespie, will open for Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau band, at a JazzErie concert on Oct. 21, then play Papermoon the next evening.
The suddenly busy Cat's A Bear
contributed photo
Nov 19 brings another JazzErie gig backing sensational young trumpeter Dom Farinacci (with Farinacci's usual drummer Carmen Intorre in for Dorris) and a Thanksgiving show with guitarist Mike Ohm and saxophonist Stan Bialomizy in for Singer and Papotnik, both of whom have other engagements on that evening.
It's the kind of schedule that proclaims that jazz is alive and well in Erie, even to those who might question whether the harmonically dense, formally complex music favored by Cat's A Bear is jazz at all.
"Well, we're intense," Dorris admitted without a trace of apology. "We come at you with originals for an hour, then we're back for another hour or hour and a half in the second set. But go to jazz clubs in any big city,
and you'll hear the kind of music that we play."
Save yourself the trip. This fall, the Cat is back and roaring in your own backyard.

Cat's A Bear will appear on Friday beginning at 10 p.m. at Scotty's Jazz and Cigar Bar, 301 German St. There will be two sets, with a music charge of $5 payable at the door.

For More Information on Cat's A Bear, visit the Web page

Buy Tito In Wonderland
Buy In Search of a Revolution
Buy Eye of the Pyramid