royal garden trio
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royal garden trio

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Band Jazz Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




Posted on February 24, 2011
by jazzlives| 1 Comment

The Royal Garden Trio's new CD (2010)
I have to come out with it: the seventy-five minute span of a compact disc is often too much for me. So when I loaded the first of three discs by the Royal Garden Trio into the car player, I expected the outcome to be the same: restlessness halfway through. No, the Beloved and I (she’s a stern critic herself) played the three discs nonstop during a six-hour drive.

They’re that good.

On these CDs, the RGT is made up of Mike Karoub (cello and string bass); Tom Bogardus (tenor guitar and clarinet), Brian Delaney (acoustic and electric 6-string guitars). And they have eminent guest stars: Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet); James Dapogny (piano); Bess Bonnier (piano, heard on JITTERBUG WALTZ below); Chris Smith (sousaphone), Louis Caponecchia (ukulele / vocal); Jo Serrapere, Paul King, Melissa Brady (vocals); Gian Paulo (string bass), Rod McDonald (guitar), Donn Deniston (drums).

What makes the Royal Garden Trio so delightful is their own restrained eloquence. The world is full of enthusiastic Hot Club spinoffs – very capable musicians, inspired by Django and Stephane. But often the result is “note for note,” which is amazing technically but less so aesthetically, or an overabundance . . . many notes, many choruses, fast tempos, dalling string virtuosity. One part of the brain admires; the other portion asks (in Lester Young’s words) to be told a story.

The members of the RGT have beautiful stories to tell. They are virtuosic as well, but they know that too much is not a good thing. So their solos are thoughtful speech, not diatribes; their notes ring and resound in the air. Each player creates compelling melodies, and they work together like a swing version of the Budapest Quartet.

Since I often find the heirs to Grappelli are given to excessive sweetness and high drama, I am thrilled by Karoub’s cello: earnest, dark yet lithe. Mike’s conception is never overblown, but his solos can be majestic. Delaney’s guitar is part Lang, part Lonnie Johnson. Bogardus romps on his guitar and his clarinet playing is easy, fervent, balancing Dodds and klezmer. And the trio works together to create something beautiful, varied, and cheering. Their performances are marvelous vignettes, the guitarists switching lead and rhythm, Bogardus playing a chorus on clarinet; Karoub bowing and then plucking in a propulsive manner (across bar lines) that recalls Steve Brown.

And they swing — without even trying hard.

Although much of the repertoire is familiar, the trio’s approach lifts it up: I never found myself saying, “Oh, another ST. LOUIS BLUES,” but was excited by what this band can do. And the CDs offer some less-played material as well: Ellington’s SATURDAY NIGHT FUNCTION, LOUISIANA FAIRY TALE (for the home-improvement minded among us, but this time with the verse), THERE’LL COME A TIME, RAGGIN’ THE SCALE, I’M FOREVER BLOWING BUBBLES, GO INTO YOUR DANCE, a hidden track of APRIL KISSES, and some winding originals that sound like theme music for mid-Thirties screwball comedy films.

The RGT's debut CD, 2002
But you can hear and see the Trio for yourself courtesy of YouTube:

HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN? (which Mike Karoub informs me was Moe Howard’s favorite song, a valuable fact):

To find out more, visit the Trio’s website: And if you feel moved to purchase all three discs (I recommend this) ask for the JAZZ LIVES discount. These players (and their nimble friends) will bring joy, in or out of the car.

- JAZZ LIVES Blog, by Michael Steinman


Soundtracks for Detroit Institute of Arts' "Let Yourself Go" animated TV (and radio/Youtube) commercial series(2008-present)

The Royal Garden Trio III, full-length CD 2010
The Royal Garden Trio "Second Recording" full-length CD 2005
The Royal Garden Trio full-length debut CD 2002



"Their sophisticated brand of early jazz is smart, sexy and infectious soundtrack for your own private movie"

"Seductive, whimsical and romantic--their album hits the sweet spot without fail. Good timing, sexy and heartbreaking, most often all at once."--Courtney Ceronsky, The Ann Arbor News

The Royal Garden Trio play swing music reminiscent of the 1930's, but with an ear toward the future of improvised Jazz.

Mike Karoub's virtuosity on Cello always charges a stage with electricity with his unique riveting improvisational style.

Tom Bogardus plays both Tenor Guitar and Clarinet. His vast experience and resume reads like a who's who of top Midwestern bands.

Guitarist and trio leader Brian Delaney forges a modern style based on jazz guitar pioneers of the '20's and '30's.

The Royal Garden Trio was formed in 2001, and has delighted audiences for nearly a decade. The trio's synergy is truly remarkable. They challenge each other, engage the audience and always manage to put a smile on each attentive face. RGT's vigorous musical hybrid-blending the Parisian cafe with the American nightlclub manages to be fresh without being exotic; a rarity anywhere and nearly unheard of in Jazz. One listen in performance or on record and you too will agree, the Royal Garden Trio are defining a niche in today's music that is all their own.