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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Bratislava Hot Serenaders & the Serenaders Sisters @ Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival - July 17

(Review by Russell)
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival was in full swing as the Bratislava Hot Serenaders took to the stage for the first of three concert performances. Later in the day the twenty piece orchestra would play in the the George Square Spiegeltent and the following evening conclude their visit in the Festival Theatre but this Tuesday lunchtime engagement focused upon the 'Dance Band Days' with a set list comprising the best of the British and American bands of the 20s and 30s. 
The Gothic style Teviot Row is the world's oldest purpose built student union building and up on the third floor, accessed via a spiralling stone staircase, the Bratislavans assembled on stage in front of a capacity audience. Ellington to start - Cotton Club Stomp - then 'S Wonderful as played by Ambrose. Band leader Juraj Bartos outlined the format; the best of the dance bands, many from this side of the Atlantic with some numbers from the Americans, all played entirely acoustically with the exception of one vocal mic and a condenser mic above the strings.  

Bartos and his band painstakingly transcribe tunes from original recordings. One can imagine the Bratislavans sitting around drinking strong coffee late into the night, surrounded by piles of 78s, as they put together a concert programme. Ellington, Ambrose, American born, London resident Carroll Gibbons' arrangement of A Foggy Day featuring Josef Kuril'ák, one of the Serenaders' two male vocalists, the other, Stancik Miloš eliciting, then conducting, the cry 'Hey!' from the audience on, as MD Bartos said, 'a strange dance number from Slovakia'! 
Blue Moon, Ellington's Jig Walk (a Charleston, said Bartos), Lew Stone's 1930 recording of Down by the River, Jack Hylton's Choo Choo from the following year, the Bratislavas were building up a head of steam. More from the British, Hylton again, with Nevertheless (1931), some Ray Noble with Al Bowlly, the Coon-Sanders' band,  As Time Goes By (from Casablanca), a hot interlude with Crazy Rhythm, ninety minutes flew by.  
Juraj Bartos is an engaging character (and fine trumpet player), his English not quite halting, invariably finding the right word, the right phrase. The band leader fondly recalled the Whitley Bay Jazz Festival and in so doing dedicated Love is Here to Stay to Patti Durham (present at the concert as a guest of the band) and the late Mike Durham. 
Russell.  

Juraj Bartos (MD, trumpet);  Stanislav Masaryk, Suchan Rastislav (trumpets); Pavol Hod’a, Pavel Sehnal, Piala Zdeno (reeds); Karol Bartos (trombone); Juraj Blaha (sousaphone); Marian Vavro (bass); Adam Szendrei, Jan Kruzuak (violins); Gabriel Szathmary (violin, violinophone); Erik Jambor (piano); Richard Fičor (guitar, banjo); Patrik Fičor (drums); Josef Kuril’ák,  Miloš Stančik (vocals) + Serenaders Sisters: Kristina Uhlikova, Nikol Tomankova, Sona Jeseniova (vocals).

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