Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Hot Sardines at the Bowery Ballroom

Fast Eddy, Miz Elizabeth and Bibs
Elizabeth Bougerol, born in Paris, France, was living in New York City, working as an editor at a travel website by day and attending jazz concerts at night. She occasionally asked the jazz bands if she could sing with them and was consistently rejected for not having any experience. One day in 2007, she slipped out of a holiday party from her day job to go to an open jazz jam. There she met Evan "Bibs" Palazzo, a New York-born pianist who longed to play stride piano and lead a traditional jazz band. After a brief conversation, he played and she sang a Fats Waller song and the bond was sealed. Months later at an open-mic night at Banjo Jim's, they teamed with a tap dancer, Edwin "Fast Eddy" Francisco, whose feet provided percussion along with Bougerol's washboard. This was the start of the Hot Sardines, a band that plays old jazz like it was contemporary pop. The Hot Sardines presently consists of Bougerol (renamed Miz Elizabeth), Palazzo, Francisco, Evan "Sugar" Crane (bass), Alex Raderman (drums), Nick Myers (reeds), Jason Prover (trumpet), and Mike Sailors (cornet/trombone). The Hot Sardines' debut self titled album was released on October 7, 2014.

Fitting for a Bastille Day celebration at the Bowery Ballroom, the Hot Sardines performed old tunes and originals in English and French. Followers of the band dressed in flapper-era outfits and danced in the aisles to swing, ragtime, boogie-woogie and Dixieland, all given a modern twist. The set was rich in standards from the Prohibition/Great Depression to World War II eras, but the intent was to present a contemporary rather than old-timey performance. Miz Elizabeth was a salty singer, unrefined enough to provide both grit and glamour to the songs. Miz Elizabeth looked and acted like Ellen DeGeneres, a genial host who danced joyfully to the music whenever she leaned away from the microphone. Meanwhile, Palazzo on the piano (draped in a French flag) played frenetically with his left hand while his right hand played syncopated melodies and improvisations. Layered in vintage New Orleans, Chicago and Harlem roots, the smoking horn section then blasted hot jazz and Latin fills. The Hot Sardines closed with a rendition of "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," and then an encore which had the band play through the audience and onto the sidewalk outside the venue.

Watch for the Hot Sardines to roll in a new Roaring Twenties. In the meantime, visit the Hot Sardines at www.hotsardines.com.