LIVE: Giacomo Smith & Friends @ Universal Preservation Hall, 8/22/15


Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

The party atmosphere of summer track season in Saratoga was carried into the Universal Preservation Hall by Giacomo Smith & Friends during their second annual concert there.

This Victorian Church-turned-performance space was turned into a dance hall as clarinetist Smith and his band played dance music from many past jazz eras, ranging from the Dixieland of New Orleans to Kansas City swing, Parisian Gypsy jazz to the early bebop of Dizzy Gillespie.

The audience was encouraged to swing dance, and dance they did, as many tunes had the audience on their feet and movin’.

The band was a mixture of some of the finest in Greater Nippertown – such as bass player Bobby Kendall and guitarist Peter Davis – as well as NYC-based musicians alto saxophonist Eddie Barbash and drummer Will Clark. Originally from Saratoga Springs, Smith is now based across the pond and runs a the London-based Kansas Smitty’s band-and-bar combo.

One couldn’t help but at least tap your toes to the music.

Such favorites and standards as “Salt Peanuts,” “That’s All” and “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans” were played.

A special treat was the second-set addition of clarinetist Evan Artsen, who had never played with any members of the band before, but fit in like a kid glove, adding complexity and danceability to the music by accompanying as well as dueling with Smith.



Surprise guests Evan Artsen and Bobby Kendall with Giacomo Smith
Surprise guests Evan Artsen and Bobby Kendall with Giacomo Smith

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