Music News & Reviews

Jazz Town: Hot Sardines to open a can of swing in KC

Hot Sardines, which has a new, self-titled album, will swing into the Folly Theater on Saturday.
Hot Sardines, which has a new, self-titled album, will swing into the Folly Theater on Saturday. LeAnn Mueller

Swing never really dies. It seems to hibernate for long times, but it always seems to come back — and it comes back in many costumes.

Sometimes it appears as neatly suited scholars playing very serious-sounding renditions of tunes said to be classics. The result often seems more classroom than dance floor.

And sometimes it appears as something with more character. Something like the Hot Sardines, the neo-swing troupe appearing at the Folly Theater on Saturday.

This little unit has three horn players, a fiddler, a rhythm section with a stride piano player and a banjo, and even its own tap dancer. There’s a charismatic singer out front, “Miz” Elizabeth Bougerol, who sometimes takes off in French instead of English. And there’s the right sense of fun throughout.

It’s a pleasant brew of Paris, New York, New Orleans and, yes, a little Kansas City.

The New York-based band, touring behind a new self-titled CD on a major label, is looking to bring swing into the 21st century with the proper balance of flavors — nostalgic sweetness and real-world bitters.

Swing often seems quaint nowadays, but not when this band does it. Maybe the kind of rowdiness the Hot Sardines provide is one of the things present-day jazz could use most.

8 p.m. Saturday. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. $18-$50. 816-474-4444 or There’s a pre-show question-and-answer session for ticketholders at 7 p.m.


▪ Speaking of swing: Trumpeter Ryan Thielman has been spending a lot of time studying the playing and compositions of Buck Clayton, the Parsons, Kan., native who was a trumpet star of the Count Basie band in the 1930s and ’40s.

Clayton was a style-setter for tasteful playing, and also wrote and arranged a considerable amount of music. He was forced to give up the trumpet for good in the ’70s but kept writing music, and he led a sweetly old-school big swing band in New York, playing brand-new compositions, almost up to his death in 1991.

A lot of Clayton’s music manuscripts are in the collection of the University of Missouri-Kansas City library. Now those sounds will swing again, as Thielman and friends from the Foundation 627 Big Band present the Buck Clayton Revival Show at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., and again at 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 22.

▪ Tenor saxophonist and composer Michael Eaton has Kansas City roots, along with musical knowledge acquired later on the music scenes in Indianapolis, Bloomington, Ind., and since 2008 in New York.

He has pushed out in modernist directions, and he has been lucky to have tenorist David Liebman as mentor, as heard on Eaton’s debut CD, “Individuation.” Eaton has a homecoming at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Westport Coffeehouse Theater, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave.; he’s bringing his touring band.

▪ The group Shades of Jade is in charge of the Monday jam at the Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., at 7 p.m. There’s a Mardi Gras show with drummer Arny Young’s Necessity Brass Band at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Trumpeter Stan Kessler’s Parallax band, with its unique two-drummer sound, performs at 7 p.m. Thursday. Bassist Bob Bowman leads a band with guitar co-conspirators Danny Embrey and Rod Fleeman plus tenor saxophonist Matt Otto at 8:30 p.m. Friday. The Jazz Disciples perform at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

▪ Highlights at the Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway, include tenor saxophonist Ian Corbett’s group at 7 p.m. Wednesday; tenor saxophonist Steve Lambert’s group at 7 p.m. Thursday; singer Kelley Gant at 7 p.m. Friday, followed by keyboardist Max Groove at 10:30 p.m.; and singer Pamela Baskin-Watson at 7 p.m. Saturday, followed by guitarist Danny Embrey and bassist Steve Rigazzi at 10:30 p.m.

▪ Take Five Coffee + Bar, at 6601 W. 135th St., Suite A-21 in Overland Park (behind the Von Maur store), has bassist Ben Leifer’s band at 8 p.m. Friday and the Parranderos Latin Combo at 8 p.m. Saturday. Prepare for the Saturday show with salsa dance lessons starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday — seriously.

▪ Other highlights at the Green Lady include drummer Philip Wakefield’s trio at 9 p.m. Monday, vibraphonist and drummer John Kizilarmut’s trio at 9 p.m. Tuesday, organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m. Wednesday, drummer Kevin Frazee’s trio at 9 p.m. Thursday and organist Chris Hazelton’s group at 10 p.m. Friday.

To reach Joe Klopus, call 816-234-4751 or send email to