It’s been five years since the Hot Club of Cowtown came out with an album of new material. With the release of the trio’s Wishful Thinking (Thirty Tigers) on August 18, however, that little sabbatical will have officially concluded.
The Hot Club, founded in New York City’s East Village nearly a decade ago, features fiddler/vocalist Elana James, guitarist/vocalist Whit Smith, and upright bassist Jake Erwin. By combining a high-octane live show with virtuosic vocal and instrumental chops, those three principals have made the Hot Club into one of the world’s preeminent hot jazz and Western swing bands. Wishful Thinking’s 14 tracks — from the original fare like James’ shuffling “Heart of Romain” to covers of classics such as Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia” and the Gershwins’ “Someone to Watch Over Me” — will do nothing to diminish the band’s stellar reputation. In fact, with the addition of drums on this recording — a Hot Club first, courtesy of Damien Llanes — the band’s renown just might rise to towering new heights.