Hot Antic Jazz Band, Spiegeltent George Square ****
One of the best-loved band and most frequent visitors to the Edinburgh Jazz Festival during its first decade of existence returned to the city for this year’s opening weekend. The Hot Antic Jazz Band may have got off to a slightly difficult start on Friday, when the previous evening’s horrific attacks on their region of France inevitably cast a pall over proceedings, but by Saturday, it was business as usual – albeit with a suitably moving tribute to the victims in the shape of the haunting tune La Roulotte.
And what is business as usual? Well, although the band is now of a similar vintage to the jazz festival – ie, almost 40 years of age – and despite being in its third incarnation in terms of personnel (only two of the original line-up remain), the six Hot Antics still dish up the classic jazz they love and they do so with terrific style and a great sense of humour – which makes them winners with both jazz aficionados and first-time jazz festivallers alike.
On Saturday, they brought the Spiegeltent down with their funny and charming take on Three Little Words, sung by the vocal trio of their front line (trumpet and reeds) with comically timed “wa-wa’s” from the piano player as he burst onto the front of the stage. Like their 1980s version of Puttin’ On the Ritz, Three Little Words will forever now have a French accent for jazz festival concert-goers when they sing it to themselves in the future.
The other main highlight of the hour-long concert, which ended with standing ovations, was an exhilarating Jersey Lightning which featured some sensational unison playing from the band’s two-man sax section. Vive la France!
* First published in The Herald, Monday July 18