The Roamin’ Jasmine

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Rob Adams


There’s an art to making a quartet sound like a much bigger band and the Roamin’ Jasmine are masters of it. If you heard them coming down Rampart Street in New Orleans, their home town, you might well think that there was a whole posse of brass players involved. In fact, there was just trumpet and trombone here playing lines with all the richness of a Louisiana gumbo alongside the swinging guitar and double bass partnership of Georgi Petrov and the group’s founder and spokesman, Taylor Smith.

This is music to remind you that the New Orleans tradition is still very much alive and that even the most grizzled of Crescent City tunes, with their origins spread all over the Deep South and the Caribbean, can be reinvigorated to have both the character that comes with age and the effervescence of youth. In the Roamin’ Jasmine’s very capable hands, fingers, feet and embouchures Li’l Liza Jane positively danced out of the 1910s into the here and now on a brilliantly mobile bass line and a funky chord progression.

Smith, who gives the music heart and soul in the bass clef with his pliable grooving, also sings in a tone that belies his baby-faced look. He may not have lived the lyrics of I Got Loaded, and let’s hope for his liver’s sake he hasn’t, but he brings the believability and conviction of a bluesman to every song while trumpeter Jonathan Bauer and trombonist Russell Ramirez, when not playing empathetic solos, harmonies and counterpoint, clap, tap dance and vocalise the narrative’s emphasis, and Petrov has the ability to energise Rosetta with finger-bustin’ single string invention.