The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Monday, 14th December
Sound Atmosphere Performance
Having matured as musicians while honing their skills and developing their many talents on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans during their busking days, these boys have come together nicely, creating a smooth, upbeat melange of nostalgic sounds.
At this particular gig there were 4 members although they often have several more musicians performing- from what I gather, the line up is pretty fluid, except for the band leader stalwart, Taylor Smith, on lead vocals and double bass. He may look green but this boy is experienced and driven- armed with his music degree he began arranging all the old classics and composing various ditties of his own. As well as being the lead man in this set up, he appears to have finger in many pies, as he also belongs to The Swamp Lillies (a Cajun/Appalachian combo group) and the Salt Wives, a klezmer band.
Other instruments featured were the trumpet, trombone and guitar. For those wishing to explore further, The Roamin’ Jasmine released their first official CD last year (self-titled). They explore many influences from different eras and genres- sounds of Dixie are woven through with swing, blues, classic jazz and some of the songs were definitely rocking a Latino twang, with a couple of lovely calypso numbers reminiscent of long, white beaches, palm trees swaying in the wind and olive skinned señoritas.
Their sound is reminiscent of the gaiety of old films set in the 1920s and 1930s, when hedonism and simplicity combined to produce a dreamy sort of atmosphere and it makes one yearn for the old days we never lived, when smart ‘phones were but a twinkle in a scientist’s eye- imagine ice cream on the board walk and children playing in the street.
Songs covered included instantly recognisable classics such as ‘We three (my echo, my shadow and me)’, made famous by Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey band, ‘My Blue Heaven’, a Fats Domino staple, and their rendition of ‘Blue Skies’, by Irving Berlin, was very good. It was a pleasure to be introduced to other, less well known songs such as ‘Got the south in my soul’ by the Boswell Sisters (a less well known group that the Andrews Sisters but excellent, nonetheless) and ‘Depression Paseo’ by Lionel Belasco, amongst many others.
On a slightly more critical note, it has to be said that, while this was certainly a competent, personable band with excellent musical skills, one can’t help feeling there was a certain something lacking, perhaps just a little too much restraint in their musical style- the arrangements were a little too samey, they need more stand-out numbers- none of it was in any way conducive to dancing so every member of the public remained seated throughout. Of course that is not necessarily a bad thing, it just depends what you are looking for of an evening, but it would have been great to see a few people hit the floor every 3r or 4th song- be warned that you won’t find a high-octane flurry of sounds, rather a mellow, light-hearted little piece of nostalgia that would do very nicely as background music or for relaxing to. Regardless, it is a lovely sound and die-hard fans of this kind of stuff won’t be disappointed.
Reviewer : Maya Moreno