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Review: The Hot Sardines at The Famous Spielgetent

By Lia Cocks

When I was a young performing arts student living in Perth, I frequented the jazz bars and underground clubs scouring the city for the hip, sweet sounds of the ragtime blues. My housemate at the time was a jazz muso, so I had big band rehearsals in my house all the time. It’s safe to say, I have a soft spot for this style.

Tonight, as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, we were packed like sardines in The Famous Spiegeltent, to see The Hot Sardines.

With the house full sign out front, we were ready to be dazzled by this New York based jazz ensemble. Co-led by lead singer Elizabeth Bougerol and pianist Evan Palazzo, she tells the story of how they met at a jazz jam advertised on Craig’s List. She was looking for a piano player, but not just any piano player. One who knew and understood a particular song, Fats Waller ‘Your Feet’s too Big’. She asked Evan if he knew the song and the rest as they say, is history. And what a story they have. Touring more than 250 cities throughout the USA, Europe and Asia, playing to crowds of 25,000 at the Montreal Jazz Festival, hit No. 1 on iTunes Jazz and racked up 20 million streams from fans in over 90 countries on Spotify.

The remaining members are made up of an incredible horn section, an impressive drummer, a smooth bassist and a tap dancer who is mesmerising, hypnotising and manically possessed!

They jump onstage with a casual vivaciousness that is only seen in jazz, and start their set, with the beautiful Cole Porter number, ‘Love Paris’, where Bougerol shows off her incredible tone, jazz tricks, and sublime phrasing. They next whip the audience into a frenzy with their rendition of ‘Crazy Rhythm’, which introduces us to their uber talented band members.

Impressive solos from the horn section, especially Adelaide’s own Josh Chenoweth on trumpet, as well as another young Adelaide jazz ingenue, Bonny Aue on bass.

They continue to wow us with their unique style of entertaining - casual but polished, syncopated but totally together, smooth followed immediately by staccato. There is never a moment of predictability, with their crazy mashup of ‘Carolina’ and ‘Good Morning’ really rousing the crowd!

Celebrating 100 years of Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘After You’ve Gone’, Bougerol tells us how these songs transcend through generations in order to stay relevant and timeless. Afterall, haven’t we all felt the wrath of unrequited love!

My pick of the night, is a tie between ‘Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home’, featuring Bougerol on washboard, and ‘Bei Mir Bist du Schoen’ by The Andrews Sisters which starred an outstanding drum off between Beth Goodfellow and our favourite frenetic tapper AC Lincoln, as well as Ben Golder-Novick taking the clarinet to another level.

The big band finish, with solos all around, disco balls spinning and a tap finale that nearly took out an audience member, The Hot Sardines transported us from the Big Apple, to Paris to New Orleans and back again and were a jazz party to end all parties.

A massively entertaining night that fed my heart and soul!

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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