photo: Fran Ruchalski

MUSICAL GUMBO The Katz Downstairz

The Katz Downstairz is not your regular jazz band but a musical gumbo filled with hip-hop, soul, R&B, rock & roll, jazz, funk, and a dash of gospel. They play what feels good, and that resonates with their audience.

I was given the opportunity to interview three of the core members of the band: Chris White (saxophone, vocals), Ce-Ce (vocals), and Ernest Jackson (songwriter, vocals, trombone).

How did The Katz Downstairz come together?
Chris–Ernest and I shared an apartment while Don and I were in a band and asked Ernest to join, but the band broke up soon after. Ce-Ce knew everyone. So we decided to make our own band, and that is how Katz Downstairz was born.

How did you come up with such an original name?
Ernest–There was this nice lady living upstairs, and we fed her cat sometimes. Well, one day I asked if the music was too loud, and she said, “No, you guys are my favorite cats downstairs.” The name clicked, and we have been the Katz Downstairz ever since.

What is home for you?
We are from Duval, but our home would have to be the Zodiac Bar and Grill. It is where we get a chance to try out new songs and get feedback from the audience.

Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Aretha Franklin, Patsy Cline, Marvin Gaye, John Coltrane, and Earth, Wind and Fire

Who would you like to collaborate with?
CeeLo, Pharrell, Ryan Lesley, Eric Robertson, and Timberland.

What venue was your best performance?
Jazz Fest 2013. The crowd was a sea of overwhelming support. We felt we could do no wrong because they fully embraced us.

Where else would you like to play?
Wimbley Stadium, Madison Square Garden, and, of course, Everbank Field Stadium.

Name the best part about being in a band.
Getting to perform with the same level of crazy. It takes a special person to be in our band. Also, no matter what happened before, once [you’re] on stage, you forget everything, letting the music take over.

Describe the vibe of the band.
It’s a brothers/sister relationship. We all love each other, but sometimes we argue. Then later we are laughing and have forgotten what all the fuss was about.

What do you want your audience to take away from your performance?
We want our fans to always have us in the back of their mind and to be a band that you can’t get what you get from us anywhere else, true originals.

The Katz Downstairz IS an original take on your regular jazz band. So, I insist you check them out by going to to see when their next performance is. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

About Britney Broussard