Hot Club of Cowtown
Wild Kingdom (Gold Strike)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Sept. 27, 2019
Rolling into decade three, Hot Club of Cowtown hasn't released a batch of original material in 10 years. Instead, the local trio revitalized standards with their blend of modernized hot jazz and Western swing. Now, 11th LP Wild Kingdom resets the marker. Elana James cuts coy out of the gate on the frolicsome "My Candy," then blows smoky as her fiddle gently weeps on "Last Call." Vibes kick carefree and playful from Whit Smith's "Caveman" to the snappy "Near Mrs" and "Three Little Words." As such, moody outlaw ballad "Billy the Kid" stands out, especially against lackluster gospel clipper "Tall Tall Ship" and the odd swoon of "Rodeo Blues." Although the new material lacks substantial depth, the playing remains immaculate and enticing, and the trio's take on traditional "Loch Lomond" and "High Upon the Mountain" ring sharp and unique.