Hot Club of S.F. & Christmas Jug Band
Hot Club Cool Yule & Holiday Highway
The Hot Club of San Francisco formed 20 years ago to celebrate the joyous music created by guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli, whose Quintet of the Hot Club of France recordings still pulse with vitality eight decades later. Hot Club Cool Yule features founder Paul Mehling’s guitar and Evan Price’s violin with backing (à la the original QHCF) by two rhythm guitarists and a bassist. They open with Steve Allen’s “Cool Yule” (one of just three vocal selections) then get down to serious business with “Don Rodolfo,” a crafty version of that reindeer song that they’ve recast as a tango. Mehling and Price re-create more of the QHCF’s magic on “Djingle Bells” and “March of the Toys” (starts slow then … look out!). Delightful goods.
The Christmas Jug Band’s Holiday Highway is a collection of the band’s live performances from the last three years. Offering what they’re pleased to call “seasonal skiffle-swing and jugabilly-infused revelry,” the 16 songs here (nine of them originals) definitely live up to that billing. The 12 musicians are featured in a variety of formats and on various instruments (e.g., accordion, kazoo, slide whistle, soprano sax, jug, flute, clarinet, guitar and piano) that, with the witty lyrics, conspire to ease one through the holidays.