Gig review: New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, Spiegeltent

New Orleans Swamp Donkeys carry a torch for that city's vintage jazz, and they are an unstoppable force. Picture: Contributed

New Orleans Swamp Donkeys carry a torch for that city's vintage jazz, and they are an unstoppable force. Picture: Contributed

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OKAY, so they’d borrowed kilts – some of them highly contemporary kilts too – to get into the, er, swing of things for this Edinburgh Jazz Festival concert.

New Orleans Swamp Donkeys

St Andrew Square Spiegeltent, Edinburgh

Star Rating: ****

What the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys hadn’t considered was quite how to dispose themselves, seated front of stage, without too much illiberal exposure. Not that propriety is much of issue when your repertoire includes such indelicate gems as Loose Booty Judy and I Got a Great Big Woman (Don’t Tell Nobody).

This was jazz as jass: the Donkeys carry a torch for the vintage New Orleans kind, and with a vengeance: in full flight they’re an exuberant and fairly unstoppable force. Buddy Bolden’s Blues, a Jelly Roll Morton classic, introduced James Williams’s scalding trumpet and the squall of Connor Stewart’s soprano sax, while West End Blues produced a terrific break from trombonist Haruka Kikuchi, all driven by Sam Friend’s steady banjo twang, Josh Marotta’s drumming and the fruity rumble of Wes Anderson’s tuba.

The languidly strolling Tonight You Belong to Me, had Williams’s gravelly vocals resonating somewhere between Satchmo and Mongolian throat singing, while they let rip with their version of the Game of Thrones theme tune, which has become a viral YouTube hit. Friend’s songs included a lazily drawling Rocking Chair and his Can’t Stop Blogging on Facebook, a droll 21st century ditty, performed in a style from a period when the nearest thing to social networking was a hand-cranked phone.

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