The Hot Sardines

Friday, Nov 1, 2024
at 7:00pm
  On Sale to Members Only

Fueled by the belief that classic jazz feeds the heart and soul, The Hot Sardines are on a mission to make old sounds new and prove that joyful music can bring people together in a disconnected world. A beloved jazz ensemble in their home city, New York, they have garnered a following of music lovers and critics alike with unique covers of classic standards. Led by vocalist “Miz Elizabeth” Bougerol and Evan “Bibs” Palazzo, the group brings together sounds from New Orleans, Paris and New York to make music like no other.

The Hot Sardines came about, as so many things in New York do, through Craigslist. Palazzo and Bougerol were enjoying careers in film production and writing, but each had a dream of performing in a jazz band. When they both responded to the same ad on Craigslist for an open jam above a Manhattan noodle shop, The Hot Sardines was born. “I was an actor, doing odd jobs in New York and Elizabeth was a freelance writer,” Palazzo said. “We both showed up for an open jam, and we hit it off, and it was shocking to meet someone liking the niche of early jazz.”

The two were an unlikely pairing. Bougerol is a French-born London School of Economics-educated travel writer and Palazzo, a New York born and bred actor who studied theater at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. They bonded over their love for Fats Waller and other greats like Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday. They began playing open mic nights and parties in questionable places in Brooklyn. “It was down and dirty and that was one of the reasons we loved it,” Bougerol said. “Cut to a few years later and we were invited to play with the Boston Pops.”

The Hot Sardines have indeed come a long way from their nights in secret places in Brooklyn. They’ve been featured at the Newport and Montreal Jazz Festivals, have sold out New York venues from Joe’s Pub to Bowery Ballroom and played tour dates from Chicago to London. Their self-titled debut album was named by iTunes as one of the best jazz albums of 2014 and spent more than a year on the Billboard Jazz Chart, debuting in the Top Ten alongside Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Downbeat magazine called The Hot Sardines “One of the most delightfully energetic bands on New York’s ‘hot’ music scene,” while The London Times called them “Simply phenomenal.” “We found ourselves in the perfect place at the perfect time,” Palazzo said. “As we explored this 100-year-old jazz, we began to look at it as a journey forward, not so much as a look back. This music is for today, not a museum piece.”

In the talented hands of the eight-member Sardines, music made famous decades ago comes alive through their brassy horn arrangements, rollicking piano melodies, and vocals from a chanteuse who transports listeners to a different era with the lilt of her voice. As they’ve traveled outside the familiar New York haunts, they’ve discovered they have fans everywhere. “It never occurred to me that anyone was listening to us outside of New York,” Bougerol said. “To show up in a town and have people say, ‘I love this song, Iove this video’ is mind-blowing to me.”

In New York City, The Hot Sardines draw a young audience, while in the rest of the country, the audience is multi-generational. “We’ll see daughters, mothers, and grandmothers coming to our show together,” Palazzo said. “On Long Island, a young girl came up to Elizabeth with a can of sardines to sign. She was 7!”

Most recently, the Sardines have released an album, C’est La Vie, a bilingual montage of vintage jazz standards and original music written by Bougerol and Palazzo. The title song, a bossa nova original in French, is an ode to living fully in the moment, even if you don’t know what the next will bring. The band is touring for the album, including a Carnegie Hall debut in April 2024, with special guest Alan Cumming. They are also producing an original show about Fats Waller.

In the hot jazz movement, The Hot Sardines stand apart for the innovation, verve, and sheer joy they bring to music, both new and old.

And what of the name The Hot Sardines? “It comes down to the fact that it was a happy accident,” Palazzo said. “We needed a name and wanted ‘hot’ for hot jazz. It sounded funny, exciting, and a little different. When you hear it, you never forget it.”