@ the Mt Hood Jazz Festival: l to r: Cleve Williams, Kurt Deutcher, Bobby Bradford, Bob Hernandez, James, and Louis "King Louie" Pain
l to r: Eddie Wied, James, Art Chaney, Cleve Williams, Sam Schlichting, Malcolm Key
The Original Cats, here performing at Portland's Billy Reed's, used a variety of rhythm sections--here, the teenaged bassist Esperanza Spalding and the late, great drummer Bruce Carter (Pleasure, Kenny G)
The roots of the Original Cats date to Portland's legendary Williams Avenue jazz scene of the 1940s and '50s. Sweet Baby James, trumpeter Bobby Bradford, and trombonist Cleve Williams were part of that scene's later stages, and in the 1990's the three old friends, along with a few other contemporaries, joined up to revive the classic "jump jazz" of their youth. Initially dubbed the "Old Cats," James and his friends soon switched their moniker to the Original Cats. The group remained together until James and Louis Pain formed "King Louie & Baby James" in 2005.