The swing music scene in New Orleans is in full swing, if you’ll pardon the play on words. As new bands continue to emerge especially on Frenchmen Street, sometimes it’s a tad difficult to find enough differences between the various acts to separate them from their peers.
Enter the New Orleans Swinging Gypsies. Led by guitarist and vocalist John Saaverdra and singer Giselle Anguizola, the group brings the dance floor onto the stage—literally. Anguizola taps and struts and swings while the band plays.
Their second album, Hot Boudin, is a collection of seven jazz standards covering a wide period of traditional jazz, ranging from Sidney Bechet’s “Vipermad” from 1924 to Django Reinhardt’s “Flèche d’Or” from 1952. Amid the classic sounds including tunes from Artie Shaw, Irving Berlin and Fats Waller are four strong originals—two from the pen of Saavedra and two composed by alto saxophonist Connor Stewart.
The album was recorded at Esplanade Studios—the current go-to spot in town for pristine recording and attentive production. The band’s sound positively oozes out of the speakers with the rhythm section of drummer Paul Thibodeaux and bassist Matt Booth driving the music.
The soloing is all first class with shout-outs to Saaverda for his crisply articulated licks and both Stewart and trombonist Nick Garrison for sweetly melodic playing. Most of the tunes are instrumentals with Saavedra taking lead vocals on a pair, Waller’s “Baby Brown” and Berlin’s “Russian Lullaby.” Anguizola shines on the lead cut, a languid take on Shaw’s “Moonray,” and an infectious jump version of Bechet’s “Vipermad.”
Hot Boudin is a welcome addition to the new swing and gypsy jazz canon in New Orleans. It’s refreshing to hear great original material paired so ably with some gems from a genre that continually renews itself.