15 min read · Aug 09, 2022
Reasons why you should visit Fat Cat Jazz Club - an intimate, underground jazz club located in the heart of Ulaanbaatar. The coolest guys gather together, spending time with a soft and gentle rhythm.
How the Cat was born
The Jazz Train trumpet player, Khongor, dreamt of opening a jazz club in Ulaanbaatar. He approached his friend, Dulguun, a.k.a. the singer-songwriter Magnolian. The first conversation about opening a jazz club happened in April 2018. To raise the necessary capital, Dulguun had the idea to crowdfund the club, borrowing $1,000 from at least 30 friends, and it worked! People were immediately excited about the idea, and the contributions started coming in. In just four months, Khongor and Dulguun went from having an idea to sitting in their very own jazz club. The Fat Cat is special because it’s built by a community of cool cats who came together and dared to believe in the idea that you can create the spaces you want to inhabit.
1. The Shows
The main reason you should visit the Fat Cat Jazz Club is for the shows! They have live shows every day of the week except on Sundays, when we’re closed. Every month, we present our programme of local talents and international guest artists from Europe, the United States, and even South Africa. Thanks to GMUB and the JazzLab Agency, the Fat Cat hosted legendary jazz acts as well as up-and-coming artists from around the world, bringing the jazz world right here to our city. In addition, they have recurring jam sessions where the musicians come together and improvise in the tradition of jazz. The week at the Fat Cat ends with a headline show from Thursday to Saturday where the bigger acts take the stage. These shows often sell out quickly so we suggest you book early!
In 2021, they organized our first international jazz music festival, Jazz City Revival, where they revived the city after the gloom of COVID-19 with jazz music for five whole weeks. Over 40 musicians from Germany, South Korea, South Africa, the USA put on shows in over 10 locations all around the city, including free street shows in the secluded Ger district areas and big band performances in formal concert halls. The festival helped put Mongolia on the map and develop the jazz music scene in UB.
2. The Atmosphere
Located underground with small dim lights and brick walls, the Fat Cat is reminiscent of the storied jazz clubs from around the world and transports you to a time and place you only find in movies and hear in songs. Look for the details around the club that each tell a story, like the brick wall where the musicians sign their name after they have performed.
3. The Drinks
We serve exquisite cocktails and a fine selection of wines, whisky, and other essential beverages. We refresh and update the menu seasonally with new specialty cocktails and little edible surprises. Each cocktail has a story which you can read on the menu to help you find the right drink for the night. We work with local mixologists to create our house cocktails so you won’t find them anywhere else.
4. Cultural Hub
Aside from our drinks and live shows, the Fat Cat Jazz Club aims to support the Mongolian jazz scene by releasing original jazz records. In 2019, we released our first record, Fat Cat Family Vol I: Day Off that features original compositions as well as renditions of jazz classics. We are in the process of releasing our second record this year, and our dream is to discover the distinct sound of Mongolian jazz.
5. The Crowd
The name is inspired by the Louis Armstrong quote: “Cats can be anybody from the guy in the gutter to a lawyer, doctor, the biggest man to the lowest man, but if he’s in there with a good heart and enjoys the same music together, he’s a cat.” And so we have lawyers, doctors, artists, politicians, students, expats, bankers, designers, athletes, anyone and everyone from all walks of life sitting shoulder to shoulder, listening to music and sipping on an age-old concoction.
6. The Service
The Fat Cat has one of the best services in town. Our staff is friendly and professional and mostly bilingual. We are on a first name basis with our regular customers, and we aim to make you feel at home!
A Brief History of Jazz in Mongolia
50 years ago, the first official jazz band, Bayan Mongol Jazz band, was formed alongside the State Philharmonic Musical Institute in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Though the first jazz instruments, such as saxophones and banjos, could be found in the 1940s in the Mongolian circus, in the late 1970s is when it all began. Fast forward to the early 2000s and local nonprofits like Ikh Taliin Jazz were organizing jazz courses and an annual music festival, Ikh Taliin Jazz Festival, that included international jazz acts.
In 2012, the German contrabassist and instructor, Martin Zenker, participated in the festival and he was inspired by what he saw. He fell in love with Mongolia, and he started GMUB (Goethe Musiklabor Ulaanbaatar). Since then, he has played a huge role in developing jazz in Mongolia. GMUB is where the new generation of Mongolian jazz musicians was born, including the musicians, singers, and bands who regularly perform at the Fat Cat Jazz Club.