Cool Jazz With The Hot Sardines
Bruce Von Stiers
A short time ago I saw an announcement for a concert at Kansas State University. It was for a jazz band that called themselves The Hot Sardines. I'd never heard of the band but was intrigued by their name. I wasn't able to go to the concert but checked out their album. It was a slick, too cool album that spanned decades of jazz music.
The album is simply called The Hot Sardines. There are eleven songs on the album and it has a run time of thirty-nine minutes. It was recorded on the Decca Records label and distributed by Universal Music Classics.
The album was produced by Eli Wolf, whose previous work includes albums by Elvis Costello, Norah Jones and Concha Bulka. It was mixed by Ted Tuthill, who did work on the Bruce Springsteen album, High Hopes, among others. And the mastering on the album was done by Greg Calbi, who has worked on albums by Norah Jones and Keith Richards.
The Hot Sardines is a group born from a love of classic jazz and swing music and musicians who weren't afraid to step away from the norm. The band was started by Elizabeth” Miz Elizabeth” Bougerol and Evan “Bibs” Palazzo. Miz Elizabeth hadn't had any formal vocal training, or had even been in a band, before connecting with Bibs. As she had no previous experience, no bands would allow her to sing with them, even in rehearsal. Although Bibs had some experience, he wasn't being taken seriously either. The two of them met at an open mic jam in Manhattan and instantly hit it off. Slowly they evolved from a duo to a full-fledged band. A few lucky breaks came the band's way that eventually led to their self-titled album.
The band provides jazz that starts somewhere in the 1920's and moves upward through time. And as such, has a full complement of musicians. Jason Prover is on trumpet. Nick Myers plays tenor sax, clarinet and flute. Joe McDonough is on trombone. Alex Raderman does percussion and drums. On bass and sousaphone is Evan “Sugar” Crane. And Sam “Fez” Raderman plays guitar and banjo. One additional member of the band, “Fast Eddy” Francisco, does tap dancing.
And to top things off for the band, Evan “Bibs” Palazzo is the bandleader, along with playing piano, accordion and providing background vocals. But the band wouldn't be what they are without the vocal talents of “Miz Elizabeth” Bougerol. In addition to providing the lead vocals, she plays the tambourine and washboard.
There are two guest performers on the album. Dave Eggar plays cello on two songs and Entcho Todorov plays violin on one.
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen is the first song on the album. Originally written for a Yiddish stage musical comedy, the song was re-written by Sammy Cohn with English lyrics. Artists such as the Andrews Sisters and Bette Midler have done this song. In the band's rendition of the song, it has a fast paced swing tone that fits well. The song starts out with some strong drum and slides into a cool, toe-tapping beat. And the vocals are superb and the piano kicks it too. But wait, the horns and wind instruments are cool too. And there is a bit of tap in there as well. In other words, an excellent song to start the album out with.
The second song is Goin' Crazy With The Blues. This song, written by Andy Razaf and J.C. Johnson, was first a hit around 1926 for Mamie Smith. Tough horn music backs smooth vocals. The song has a speakeasy sound that will definitely make you think of 1920's jazz.
Soft and gentle are the vocals in Wake Up In Paris. This slow and easy song was written by Elizabeth. It is one of the songs that features cello music.
That is followed up by a toe-tapping song called Zazou (Sweet Sue). Co-written by Elizabeth, it is sung in in French. Elizabeth grew up in several countries, including France.
Everybody from Duke Ellington to Billie Holliday and even Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga have recorded I Can't Give You Anything But Love. Mellow yet somewhat aching vocals by Elizabeth make this a great rendition. This is the other song on the album to feature cello music. It also features violin.
Fun and somewhat naughty is Your Feet's Too Big. Legends such as Fats Waller had recorded this song. Slightly sultry vocals by Elizabeth and tough horn, bass and piano mark this as a great rendition.
A staple among jazz music is Honeysuckle Rose. The band does a wonderful job with the song. The piano really complements the rest of the music on the song.
Written as an instrumental, lyrics were later added to the French song, Petite Fleur. Soft and seductive are the vocals by Elizabeth as she sings in French.
A lot of bass backs Elizabeth on the song What A Little Moonlight Can Do.
Another original song is Let's Go. Co-written by Elizabeth and Evan, it is a light and easy song with nice instrument solos.
Mellow and lyrical are Elizabeth's vocals in the final song on the album, I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance (Without You).
When I got the album, it had a sticker on the front. That sticker said that the album is “Hot Jazz For The 21 st Century.” To me, that statement was right on the money. This band takes classic jazz and swing music and makes it as fresh as it was when it was first done. Throw in the original compositions and Elizabeth's ability to sing in French and you have a thoroughly entertaining album.
The album can be purchased on iTunes and amazon.com among other online and traditional retailers.
The band's official site is http://hotsardines.com/ There you will find additional information about the band, as well as song samples and music videos for some of the songs.
There is also a band Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hotsardines/
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© 2015 Bruce E Von Stiers