Review: The Hot Sardines

This band is on a mission to put the “hot” back into “hot jazz.” Think Louis Armstrong’s legendary Hot Five and Hot Seven combos, with a pinch of the grit of swing revivalists like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Their repertoire tends to pre-1930 songs, popularized by the likes of Sophie Tucker. Lead singer Elizabeth Bougerol is openly committed to “infotainment,” letting us know that the smattering of Christmas songs they did this gig (all originated in the 1950s by Rat Packers) were going to be done “hot and gutbucket” a very 1920s phrase.

Bougerol and pianist / bandleader Evan Palazzo met in 2007 after they both answered a Craigslist ad about a jazz jam session above a Manhattan noodle shop. Palazzo passed her litmus test – he knew Fats Waller’s “Your Feet’s Too Big” and could play it off the top of his head (they still do a scorching version). Since then they have been increasing the size of the ensemble; it’s presently a hot eight to nine-piece – depending on the night, and what friend is in town.

Perhaps most inventively, the band includes a tap dancer, DeWitt Fleming Jr., who intentionally plays the part of a percussionist more than a dancer. He conjured the very best of tap legend Gregory Hines. Bougerol was born in France and injects the occasional French-language vocal into the mix, regardless of whether the song was originally in French or not. This sort of playful irreverence forms a central part of the band’s aesthetic, showing up in Palazzo’s frisky fugue-like intro to “Comes Love”, again partially presented in French. Highly recommended.

For tickets, click here.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see

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