With all of the “Hot Clubs” in the world (it must number over 100 at this point), there is a tendency of some of the recordings sounding similar with their red hot Django guitarists, violins, and rhythm guitars. However the Hot Club Of Baltimore’s CD is a bit different as can be seen in its title: Featuring Alexis Tantau.
Few Hot Clubs showcase singers and even then not usually vocalists on the level of Alexis Tantau. On this very enjoyable CD, she sings on most of the 13 selections, displaying a warm voice, versatility, and a cheerful nature. Among her highpoints are versions of “La Vie En Rose,” “C’est Si Bon,” a rather uptempo “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” Artie Shaw’s “Moon Ray,” and a rendition of “If I Had A Ribbon Bow” that recalls Maxine Sullivan.
However Ms. Tantau is far from the whole show. The core trio (guitarists Michael Joseph Harris and Sami Arefin plus one of two bassists) welcome guests on trumpet (both Nico Sarbanes and Joseph Brotherton are hot players), violin, clarinet or bass clarinet, piano, and drums. Accordionist Thomas King takes a fluent solo on “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” The instrumentation changes constantly throughout the colorful CD and adds to its value and variety.
This is an enjoyable swing set that grows in interest with each listen.
Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for AllMusic.com. He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.
Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.