By Tom Alvarez, Indianapolis Performing Arts Examiner
February 12, 2015
Those who had the good fortune to attend either of the two sold-out performances Saturday of The Hot Sardines, at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club, will, no doubt, be forever grateful they secured tickets. Regarded as one of the country’s most sought after musical groups, the New York based jazz band’s appearance in Indy was one of numerous stops on its first national tour.
Interestingly enough, according to the band’s vocalist and co-founder “Miz Elizabeth” Bougerol, it wasn’t their first appearance in the city. They were here last during Super Bowl XLVI in 2011 when they performed during a private party at Harry & Izzy’s Steakhouse.
Besides Miz Elizabeth and the band’s other co-founder and bandleader Evan “Bibs” Palazzo on piano, the group included Mike Sailors (coronet), Jason Prover (trumpet), Alex Raderman (percussion), Nick Myers (clarinet/saxophone) and Evan “Sugar” Crane (upright bass). Contributing to the uniqueness of the group, which specializes in adding a contemporary twist to their “hot jazz” repertoire from the ‘20s, ‘30s, was tap dancer Edwin “Fast Eddy” Francisco.
Examiner.com was present at The Hot Sardines’ 9:30 p.m. set. Any doubts this writer might have had regarding the group’s ability to maintain a high level of energy after having already performed one show quickly dissipated the moment they entered from the rear of the room. Horns blowing, the members of the group made their way to the stage. Once there, they launched into “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do,” with “Miz Elizabeth” singing in a bluesy style and with a voice quality similar to that of the song’s composer, Billie Holiday.
By the time the band performed “I Love Paris” with a Latin beat and “After You’ve Gone” featuring a tap solo with “Fast Eddy” (who more than lived up to his nickname) it became clear that they were not just simply replicating a vintage sound. Instead, the group, comprised of highly proficient, talented musicians, made the music fresh and probably more relevant for those discovering it for the first time.
Other songs performed by The Hot Sardines, with members dressed in clothes in the style of the era they affectionately paid homage to, included “Wake Up In Paris,” an original ballad from their debut 2014 self-titled debut album; Fats Waller’s “Your Feet’s Too Big”; Sophie Tucker’s “Some of These Days; and “I Want To Be Like You” from the “Jungle Book,” which Miz Elizabeth sang in French with band members chiming in during the song’s chorus.
Once again demonstrating the quirky showmanship displayed throughout their act, the group went a step further when all but the bass player and drummer took to the floor, with clarinetist Myers doing a solo while lying on his back during their closing number “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” a Yiddish song made famous by The Andrews Sisters.
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"One of Indianapolis' most fashionable downtown nightspots..."Tom Alvarez, Examiner.com