Jazz With Some Fries And Bubbly

Bruce Von Stiers

A couple of years ago I reviewed an album by a band whose music had been called “Hot jazz for the 21 st century.” The band call themselves The Hot Sardines. I really liked the album and was looking forward to their next effort.

That next effort is an album with an interesting title. It is French Fries & Champagne. That title absolutely fits the style of jazz that the band does. Sophisticated, yet appealing to every listener of jazz music.

The album has eleven songs and a play time of forty-one minutes. There are several originals on the album, mixed with terrific renditions of already established songs. The album was produced by Eli Wolf. Besides producing the band's earlier album, Eli has produced albums by Norah Jones and Kandace Springs. The album was released by Decca Records, and distributed by Universal Music Classics.

The members of The Hot Sardines are “Miz Elizabeth” Bougerol, Evan “Bibs” Palazzo, Jason Prover, Nick Myers, Mike Sailors, Sam Raderman, Evan Crane, Alex Raderman and Eddy Francisco. Miz Elizabeth does the vocals. Bibs leads the band and plays piano and the organ. Jason plays the trumpet and Nick is on tenor sax and clarinet. Mike plays the valve trombone and coronet while Sam is on guitar. Evan does the bass and plays tuba, while Alex plays the drums and does percussion. And Eddy helps out by doing taps.

For the album, the band got some additional musicians to help out. Dave Eggar played the cello and provided string arrangements. Chuck Palmer was the string conductor and did some of the arrangements. Kate Kresek was on violin and viola. Tony Maceli played the contrabass and Phil Faconti played guitar.

Two other specials guests on the album were Alan Cumming and Bob Parins.

First up on the album is Running Wild. This A.G. Gibbs song is probably best known as sung by Marilyn Monroe in the great comedy Some Like It Hot. Elizabeth does a fantastic job with the vocals here. The band backs her vocals well. There are great trumpet, sax and piano solos in this rollicking tune. The tone for the entire album is set with this first song.

Then the listener is treated to the classic Roger and Hammerstein song, People Will Say We're In Love. The song was composed for the musical Oklahoma and was done by Shirley Jones and Gordon McRae in the film adaptation. Since then people from Ella Fitzgerald to Jack Jones have recorded the song. In their rendition of the song, the band gave it a sort of a tango styling. There is some nice trumpet music in the song and great vocals. It is definitely a different arrangement of this classic song but they make it work very well.

Before seeing him in his co-starring role as Eli Gold on The Good Wife, I wasn't familiar with Alan Cumming. But I now know him to have a great singing voice as well as acting chops. Alan gives some extra zing to When I Get Low I Get High. He and Elizabeth do a magnificent job on the vocals to this timeless Marion Sunshine song. The music is really great in the song, especially the trumpet.

One song that was definitely different is Addicted To Love. This pop/ rock song was written and recorded by Robert Palmer. It is an interesting and entertaining take on the song. The arrangement and vocals treat it as a toe-tapping kind of a big band jazz song.

Bob Parins shares the vocals with Elizabeth on his song, Sweet Pea. It is a soft and gentle song with subtle vocals, piano, horns and drums.

The Les Brown song Comes Love receives a special arrangement on the album. The song is listed on the album as Comes Love (L'Amour S'en Fout). Some of the vocals are done in English, others are sung in French. It is a cool medley of the song with a really nice string arrangement. The intro to the song is actually an original arrangement by Bibs.

A bit bluesy, a bit sultry are the vocals in Here You Are Again. It is an original song written by Elizabeth.

Soft, gentle and a tiny bit aching vocals can be found in the Sammy Cahn tune Until The Real Thing Comes Along. The string arrangement in the song is very good.

The title track, French Fries & Champagne, is an entertaining piece. Great strings go side by side with horn, piano and drums. The vocals are somewhat gentle. You get a story of love that has gone away and they should be celebrating. That is, with French fries and champagne and a smile. It is a terrific original song written by Elizabeth and Bibs.

The Joe McCoy song Why Don't You Do Right was originally called The Weed Smokers Dream. On this album Elizabeth does the song partially in French. Hence how the song is titled on the album, which is La Fille Aux Cheveux Roux (Weed Smoker Dream). Elizabeth wrote the French lyrics for this rendition.

The final song on the album is an original composition written by Bibs titled Gramercy Sunset. It has a beautiful strings introduction that slides into terrific piano music. Later the trombone is in front of subtle guitar, drum and string music. It is a song that would be just right for one of those timeless films you see on Turner Classic Movies.

The Hot Sardines is a band you can't easily forget. They take timeless classics of the jazz world and spiff them up for a modern audience. Grouping those with original songs makes for a very entertaining listening experience. This new album, French Fries & Champagne, is a perfect example of the fantastic music that Miz Elizabeth and the guys provide.

French Fries & Champagne can be found at most major music outlets.

The band has an official web site at https://hotsardines.com/

They also have a Facebook band / fan page at https://www.facebook.com/hotsardines/

Check out The Hot Sardines. I'm sure you'll like them as much as I do.

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© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers