French Fries & Champagne
Universal Music Classics
The Hot Sardines, led by bandleader Evan Palazzo and lead singer Elizabeth Bougerol, might be simplistically described as a retro-swing jazz ensemble, featuring lively, crisp, brassy band accompaniments to Ms. Bougerol's flirty vocals, that evoke in part the music 52nd Street and Paris cabarets. The band includes the trumpet of Jason Prover, drummer Alex Raderman, saxophone and clarinet by Nick Myers, and trombone and cornet from Mike Sailors with a number of selections effectively employing a string section.
As a vocalist Ms. Bougerol might invite comparisons to Cyrille Aimee and delights with her voice and her understated delivery that is so delightful on the unexpected rearrangement of Robert Palmer's "Addicted To Love," as well as the Doris Day-like novelty "Sweet Pea." The jazz standard (song by Billie Holiday among many others) "Come Love," opens as a minuet (piano and strings) before Ms. Bougerol sings in her native French before a stride piano break followed by her turning to English with some brassy horns led by Prover's blistering trumpet and Myers clarinet. Similarly original is the rendition of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "People Will Say We’re In Love" taken as a tango with string embellishments adding to the performances flavor.
Alan Cummings duets with Ms. Bougerol on "When I Get Low I Get High," which Ella Fitzgerald popularized and songs like a soundtrack from a late thirties' cartoon. The country-tinged Bougerol original "Here You Are Again" receives an urbane pop treatment followed by a lovely rendition of "Until The Real Thing Comes Along," that was made famous by Pha Terrell's vocal on the Andy Kirk original. The title track might lightly celebrate having a frolic even when times might not justify them. After "La Fille Aux Cheveux Roux (Weed Smoker's Dream)," sung in French to the melody of Kansas Joe McCoy's "Weed Smoker's Dream," that itself evolved into the better known "Why Don't You Do Right?" "Since"La Fille Aux Cheveux Roux" translates as "Women With Red Hair," I suspect this might have original lyrics in French.
After Palazzo's instrumental tribute to his own neighborhood "Gramercy Sunset," has a nice trombone solo along with his almost cocktail-styled piano with a lush strings overlay," that provides a coda to a recording that may not break any new ground, but certainly entertains with these gems of performances.
I received downloads from a publicist. This review appeared in the September-October 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 368). Here is a video for one of the selections on this, "Running Wild."