Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Norfolk And Norwich Festival 2015

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Norfolk And Norwich Festival
Norwich, UK
May 8-24, 2015

With a program that includes dance, visual arts, site-specific theatre in city streets and ancient woodland and a few almost impossible to define events, a festival such as the annual Norfolk and Norwich Festival still manages to find space for jazz. The 2015 festival found space across a range of venues, for possibly the most exciting jazz line-up of recent years—hot jazz from the early decades of the twentieth century, contemporary jazz from some of the UK's brightest new players, jazz and European classical music sharing a single concert, acoustic jazz with a rock-influenced energy and drive, were all to be found and enjoyed.

Mammal Hands

As an arts festival, rather than a specialist music festival, the Norfolk And Norwich Festival programs a sometimes bewildering array of entertainment. Some events concentrate on a single art form, some bring different forms or genres together. So it was that Mammal Hands (pictured above), like Polar Bear on the previous Sunday night, found itself part of the Sunday Night Beat Club at Norwich Arts Centre. The up-and-coming Norwich trio headlined a bill that included spoken word performers and two folk bands—the Balkan-inspired Horo Quartet (featuring Mammal Hands' reeds player Jordan Smart) and the folk-rock flavored Fishclaw.

It may sound like an odd combination of bands, but it worked well. When push comes to shove, Norwich is much more in love with folk than jazz so Horo Quartet's cheerful Balkan tunes soon led to a minor outbreak of dancing towards the front of the crowd. Fishclaw's more complex and grandiose instrumentals calmed things down a little but the dancing continued, if rather self-consciously. The large crowd welcomed Mammal Hands like the three musicians were old friends, which in many cases they probably were.

A partisan audience always helps a band feel at home (a loud cry of "Welcome home" from one crowd member served to underline the audience support) but Mammal Hands, still with just one album to its name (Animalia, Gondwana Records 2014), is growing in confidence and extending its reputation well beyond its home city. Most of the set concentrated on tunes from the debut album, including the rollicking "Bustle," driven by Nick Smart's rolling piano phrase, and the gentler, more reflective "Mansions Of Millions Of Years." The three musicians are not the most demonstrative or visually exciting bunch of players, but they exuded a quiet authority and produced music with a pleasing mix of rhythm (enough grooves to ensure that some low-key dancing soon made a reappearance) and melody.

The Hot Sardines with John Etheridge

Guitarist John Etheridge played a short set in support of the Hot Sardines at the Theatre Royal. Those who know Etheridge through his role as guitarist in Soft Machine Legacy might well have been surprised by his appearance but he was Stephane Grappelli's guitarist back in the '70s and he's more than able to perform selections from the American Songbook.

Swapping between two electric guitars, Etheridge's set included tunes by John Scofield and Abdullah Ibrahim. He proved to have a warm and humorous stage presence—his routine about the innate coolness of bass guitarists as they perform their necessary but simple role in the band was laugh-out-loud funny (and presumably tongue-in-cheek). Two numbers stood out: a straight-ahead version of "Stormy Weather" and a beautiful take on Charles Mingus' elegy for Lester Young, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," made even more poignant by Etheridge's dedication of the tune to the memory of B B King.

The Hot Sardines was what the sold-out crowd had come to see—the band did not disappoint. This was good time, old school, hot jazz at its best: a terrific combination of musicianship, showmanship, humor and tap dancing rolled into one entertaining package. Fronted by Miz Elizabeth Bougerol (aka Miz Elizabeth) and directed from the piano by the Fats Waller-inspired Evan Palazzo the Hot Sardines had the audience onside from the start—Bougerol's declaration of support for Norwich City football team did no harm either.

The Hot Sardines may take inspiration from the early decades of jazz, but the band is not in thrall to the strict tradition, which is to the good. The members all dress sharp but with a rather timeless quality, rather than attempting to conform to a strict '20s or '30s dress code. The touring 8-piece included seven of the line-up from the band's debut album, The Hot Sardines (Decca, 2014)—there's no guitarist in the touring line-up and valve trombonist Mike Sailors is a new addition. Individually and collectively they had the chops the music needed and the sass and charisma (Bougerol and Palazzo in particular) to ensure that a fine time was had by all.


comments powered by Disqus


Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Live Reviews
Kevin Bales With Chuck Redd At The Jazz Corner
By Martin McFie
January 21, 2019
Live Reviews
Darrell Grant Black Art @ 25 Quartet at Birdland Theater
By Mike Jurkovic
January 18, 2019
Live Reviews
Odean Pope Quartet at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
By Victor L. Schermer
January 15, 2019
Live Reviews
Denise Donatelli at Mezzrow
By Nicholas F. Mondello
January 10, 2019
Live Reviews
The Los Cabos Jazz Experience 2018
By Wendy Ross
January 5, 2019