Hot Sardines to bring classic hot jazz to Indian Ranch in Webster


WEBSTER – As an enthusiastic duo, then as a trio, singing, playing and tap dancing to the music of great jazz classics like Fats Waller was just for fun.

“We started playing as a hobby,” said Elizabeth Bougerol.

Then things heated up for The Hot Sardines, which Bougerol, singer, had co-founded with pianist Evan Palazzo.

“It just got harder and harder to ignore the momentum that the group was starting to get. At one point we turned around and we had something created,” said Bougerol.

The Hot Sardines are now an acclaimed eight-member group playing vintage hot jazz with all their cheerful improvisation combined with some 21st century flair and flair. Bougerol is co-artistic director, writer and singer, and Palazzo is co-artistic director, pianist and conductor.

After being barred from live performances for over a year, we can expect the Hot Sardines to sizzle when the group performs at Indian Ranch at 6 p.m. on July 22 as part of the featured Summer @ MW series. by Music Worcester.

The group had just resumed live when Bougerol spoke on the phone recently.

“The first shows came out last week, I’m not sure who was more excited to be back – the audience or the live musicians,” she said. “The pandemic has demonstrated the value of the live experience. There is very little that replaces the experience of live people doing this together in a room.”

Or amphitheater, in the case of Indian Ranch. Bougerol never visited but was informed of the location and was looking forward to it. Fingers crossed for the good weather, because while the band and much of the audience will be covered, she didn’t want anyone to get caught in the rain.

But on the outside or inside, “It just came to a complete stop,” Bougerol said of the pandemic’s effect on performance and touring.

“Like all the other musicians, we had a forced break. We were able to compose, withdraw into ourselves and write new music, which we will release later in the year.”

"We started to play as a hobby," said Elizabeth Bougerol, who found The Hot Sardines with pianist Evan Palazzo. "It became more and more difficult to ignore the momentum that the group started to have.  At one point, we turned around and had created something.

It will be on a new album. “Some are original music, some are covers, which we usually do,” she said of the album on hold.

The process was a little different this time. “Instead of coming to the studio, we recorded remotely,” Bougerol said. Musicians would send files from Cape Cod to China, depending on where they were. “It was interesting. It taught us a new way to collaborate.”

Blockages invoked nostalgia

The lockdown obviously also brought feelings of nostalgia. The album will be “either French songs or songs with a French touch,” Bougerol said. She specifies that she is from France. Not being able to visit him because of the pandemic made him miss more. “That’s life,” she said.

Jazz crossed the Atlantic to France over 100 years ago and never left.

“Jazz in France is really still considered pop music,” Bougerol said. “It’s a wonderful legacy from when jazz was king. The French really embraced jazz musicians, especially black jazz musicians.” Bougerol mentioned figures such as Jazz Age artist Joséphine Baker, who rose to fame in France after working in obscurity and worse still in the United States.

“Growing up in France, jazz was not a marginalized genre. It was really pop music,” Bougerol said.

Born just outside of Paris, Bougerol also spent time as a child / young adult in Ivory Coast and Canada. She had a personalized introduction to jazz from her grandfather, the late Canadian trumpeter and conductor Bobby Gimby, who had television and radio shows with his orchestra.

“One of my earliest memories of him is listening to him practice his jazz trumpet. It definitely planted the seed,” said Bougerol.

Her travels later took her to England, where she earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and then to New York. She was a writer and editor, editing internet city guides and creating editorial websites as well as writing freelance for magazines and book projects.

“When the recession hit in 2008, I was a freelance writer. It became almost impossible to make a freelance living,” she said.

During this time, the seed of jazz had grown. “I was a young person who thought jazz was practically a religious experience,” she said. She was self-taught as a singer and was looking for an outlet.

In 2007, she responded to a Craigslist ad for a traditional jazz jam performing at a noodle shop near Times Square in Manhattan. The same goes for Palazzo, a trained actor from New York and someone like Bougerol who loves Fats Waller’s music.

The two instantly bonded not only with Waller, but also greats such as Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday. Palazzo played the piano and Bougerol sang.

Singer Elizabeth Bougerol with AC Lincoln tap dancer from The Hot Sardines.

They performed as a duo, then decided to add a tap dancer for percussive (with Bougerol on the washboard) and visual reasons.

“Evan and I knew from the start that we wanted something visual that communicates the energy of the music, and tap dancing is crucial for that,” said Bougerol.

Small shows have opened doors

Open mics turned into little gigs, and The Hot Sardines quickly got to the heart of the matter. In 2011, The Hot Sardines headlined Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center in New York City. Also in 2011, the band released their debut album, “Shanghai’d”.

Prior to the pandemic, the group had performed at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival, and averaged 150 concerts from Chicago to London and regular sold-out appearances in New York.

The Sunday Times in London praised Bougerol’s “social voice and Peggy Lee”. The Times of London observed and heard “A simply phenomenal and crisp musicality that goes hand in hand with a flawless, witty performance.”

The Hot Sardines were originally scheduled to make an appearance in Worcester on April 2 at Mechanics Hall as part of Music Worcester’s 2020-21 season.

Adrien C. Finlay, Executive Director of Music Worcester, said the band “has been on our radar for a number of years… They are super virtuoso musicians, and their singer – there’s not much that ‘she can’t do or play’.

“Hot Jazz” describes jazz “which is extremely emotionally intense and involves a lot of improvisation” and generally dates back to the great Dixieland jazz groups of the 1920s and 1930s.

Hot Sardines said, “Fueled by the belief that classical jazz nourishes heart and soul, Hot Sardines are on a mission to renew old sounds and prove that joyful music can bring people together in a disconnected world. .

The group took a wave (and was a big part of the wave) of a renewed interest in hot jazz which was enthusiastically adopted by young audiences in New York City around 2010.

Bougerol said she wondered if jazz would be a “hard sell”.

However, “I had this hope if enough people saw, people would feel as carried away by the energy as I felt. I was really not sure, but we are glad that we are right,” he said. she declared.

Diversified catalog

The repertoire can be flexible, going all the way back to 1902 with “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey” and also including Robert Palmer’s 1986 hit “Addicted to Love”.

Much of the music is maybe 100 years old or almost, but “One of the things Evan and I bonded about was playing it as 21st century people taking liberties with it,” he said. declared Bougerol.

You could say that such an approach is in the spirit of music. “That feeling of freedom has always been there,” she said.

Yet when asked if this attitude had upset some traditionalists, Bougerol replied: “Yes, of course. Traditionalists work very hard to preserve the music as it was played, and we have so much love and respect for it. This is just not how we feel about this music. They are living and breathing songs. We’re looking to see what this particular group of musicians can bring to the music right now. “

Bougerol noted that Vince Giordano, an American saxophonist and leader of the Nighthawks Orchestra based in New York and specializing in jazz of the 1920s and 1930s, is a “curator” of jazz music.

“But he was one of our first boosters, so we knew if we didn’t tick off Vince Giordano it was fine,” she said.

During live performances, Bougerol can look into the audience and sometimes see “four generations at one show,” she said.

“It’s such a testament to the power of classical jazz. It’s one of those genres that doesn’t alienate one generation or another. It’s such a warm and welcoming genre.”

Hot Sardines

When: July 22 6 p.m. (doors 5 p.m.)

Where: Indian Ranch, 200 Gore Road, Webster

How much: $ 35 +. For more information and a link to purchase tickets, visit

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