FAME Review: The Hot Club of San Francisco - Live at Yoshi's, San Francisco
The Hot Club of San Francisco - Live at Yoshi's, San Francisco

Live at Yoshi's, San Francisco

The Hot Club of San Francisco

Azica Records - AJD72249

Available from HCSF's online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Well, this is the third time The Hot Club of San Francisco has appeared in FAME pages (see here and here) and damned if they just don't get better and better…that is, if it's possible to rise above the stratospheric level of already being superlative. No matter what it does, this ensemble is on and off the dime in a nanosecond, pealing out lightning swift riffs and melodies as though nothing could be easier. Last time out, I mentioned the group couldn't have done better to find a Grapelli stand-in than Evan Price, and Live at Yoshi's very precisely vindicates that assertion. The guy's just as infernally fluid, fiery as a sunstruck sapphire, as in the Django release, and plays a mean electro-mando to boot.

Vocalist Isabelle Fontaine harks back to Tin Pan Alley / swing / hot jazz days with a decided love of Cole Porter. Interestingly, 20 years ago she hadn't Intention One of being a pro musician, but sing-along sessions with friends soon outed an undeniable talent and, voila!, here she is, blazing along with the boys. Ah, but catch her in the ballads, Syracuse being one, and Brazil airily flows through the material, balmy, breezy, tropical. You won't get to lay back too long, though, as the band soon cuts right back into the brisk repertoire, and Paul Mehling's dazzling guitar work goads the pulse to an even more jackrabbit pace.

There's no percussion in The Hot Club, so Clint Baker carries the bottom section of rhythm duties in a single bass line anchoring the rest of the band through jumping jitterbugging groundwork (and lay an ear to where he sounds, hee-har!, like a tuba during his solo in C'est Si Bon, fattening out like a roothog digging in the mudwallows), rhythm guitarist (and dobro player) Jeff Magidson seconding the activity a level above. Preserving every breathless note, Bruce Egre and Alan Bice turned in a killer recording, clean as a whistle, completely transparent, sounding as though a top-drawer studio gig. Throw this disc on in the morning, and you can toss the morning joe in the daffodils 'cause caffeine don't have the kick The Hot Club administers, Pierre, nor will it put the fleetfoot in your quickstep anywhere near so well nor elicit a blissful meadowlark whistle as you head off to work dreaming of romantic—but full tilt—starry nights in Paris.

Track List:

  • R-26 (Grappelli / Reinhardt)
  • It's Alright with Me (Cole Porter)
  • What a Little Moonlight Can Do (Harry M. Woods)
  • Syracuse (Dimey / Salvador)
  • Songe d'Automne (Joyce / Wilmott)
  • Just One of Those Things (Cole Porter)
  • C'est Si Bon (Betti / Hornez)
  • Gone with the Wind (Herbert Magidson)
  • Dinette (Django Reinhardt)
  • I Love Paris (Cole Porter)
  • Dansons La Rose (Roses of Picardy) (Weatherly / Wood)
  • Stella By Starlight (Washington / Young)
  • Buona Sera (de Rose / Sigman)
  • Milord (Monnot / Mustacchi)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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