Wellington Jazz Club
Hot Club Sandwich Reunion
On Sunday 17th July Hot Club Sandwich return after a decade's hiatus, with the original line up of Terry Crayford (bass), Andrew London (guitar) and Neil Billington (harmonica), playing mostly quirky original songs that poke fun at Kiwi culture, and some jazz & blues standards based around the continental 'hot club' swing style. A pianist, bass player and composer, jazz legend Terry Crayford has been entertaining New Zealanders for more than 60 years. Andrew London is a songwriter and satirist who performs often with his own Andrew London Trio. His songs explore social and political themes and although humour and satire is very much to the fore, poignancy and pathos are often not far away. Neil Billington is one of the leading exponents of the harmonica to come out of New Zealand, and combines a rare capacity for both the traditional blues harmonica and the less typical chromatic harmonica. Hot Club Sandwich evolved in the early 1990s from a Radio NZ recording session in which Andrew London (guitar/vocals) and Terry Crayford (bass/keyboard) tried to recreate the style and sound of the iconic ‘Le Quintette du Hot Club de France’; the five-piece ManoucheGypsy swing ensemble that propelled violinist Stephane Grappelli and guitarist Django Reinhardt to international fame in the 1940s. In the wake of the recording project, gigs popped up and were undertaken with great zeal and enthusiasm; so much so that by 2000 the ‘trio’ (soloists on various instruments were roped in as required) was doing around 130 gigs a year. Collaborators included violinists Nik Brown (Warratahs), Fiona Pears (Hayley Westenra) , Colleen Trenwith (Hamilton County Bluegrass band, The Cattlestops) and Elena (NZSO), saxophonists Johnny Lippiett, Nils Olsen and James Tait-Jamieson (all ex-Rodger Fox Big Band), and harmonica player Neil Billington. Their repertoire, like their 1940s namesakes, consisted mostly of American jazz standards, western swing and blues staples, until London began writing original songs with social or satirical themes, in the ‘Hot Club Swing’ style. Half a dozen of these, along with some Crayford originals, were recorded on their first album, 2001’s ‘Enjoy 2022 JuLY Wgtn Jazz Club newsletter.docx  Yourself of Get Out’. Their second album ‘Toasted’, won acclaim from Downbeat USA magazine, the World’s most widely-read jazz publication. Over the ensuing decade, eight albums of mostly original songs were recorded, along with a live DVD culled from a night’s performance at Wellington’s Old St Pauls, where the trio held a monthly residency gig for 10 years. Hot Club Sandwich headlined all major jazz festivals in New Zealand over that time, including the annual Nelson Jazz Festival 12 years in succession, several Arts festivals and numerous television appearances. They travelled to play festivals in Sydney and Norfolk Island, and in 2010 were flown to Saudi Arabia to play a handful of concerts at the NZ Embassy. Hot Club Sandwich recordings have featured in Radio NZ’s ‘Greatest Song Ever Written’, European Dance compilation albums and Movie soundtracks (No Petrol, No Diesel). They played a reunion gig in April 2021 after a nine-year hiatus, and are back on the scene, if at slightly slower tempos, with Neil Billington on harmonica.