Sabertooth Swing, “Extinct Possibilities” (Independent)

sabertoothThere are those in the traditional jazz world who maintain a dogged adherence to historical accuracy, and then there are those who throw tradition out the window. Sabertooth Swing belongs in the latter category. Born out of the city’s many thrown-together dance bands, these musicians bring a playful sensibility to selecting the repertoire of their debut album, Extinct Possibilities. While you will find some of the standard workhorse tunes here, such as “After You’ve Gone” and “I Get Ideas,” you’ll find some pretty unexpected stuff too.

They kick things off with a cabaret version of the Kinks’ “Alcohol” followed by a mashup of Georges Brassens’ “Je m’suis fait tout petit” and the Amy Winehouse hit “Back to Black.” Just when you think they can’t get farther from the root of the genre, they throw in the theme from Family Guy. This is not an album for moldy figs. The rest of the songs are closer to tradition, with a New Orleans brass version of the Jamaican ska tune “Wings of a Dove.” In a city with countless young jazz bands popping up, standing out is quite the challenge. It seems like Sabertooth Swing have found their way to make a splash.

  • Paul Goode

    It’s solid — the musicianship and the verve are on the money. But the vocals are desultory, and that’s unfortunately a problem common to too many of the new trad bands. Any of the songs here would do just fine as instrumentals — it’s not like we need another vocal of After You’ve Gone — and the album would go from solid to strong.