Vocals

New Album: Get Rhythm in Your Feet by Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders

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Excited to be a part of Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders second album Get Rhythm in Your Feet, 17 tracks of classic swing music, expertly served up by Michael Gamble and a crew of all-star swing musicians!  We recorded this album right after Lindy Focus this past year and it’s so great to go into the studio after a week of blissful performing for one of the best audiences on the planet.  I’m singing on 6 tracks, pick up a copy on your favorite digital music platform today!

Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders – July 12, 2017

Midsummer Night Swing 2016 - Mint Julep Jazz Band

MSNS Damrosch Park bandshell photograph courtesy of Ryan Swift

It was an incredible honor for the Mint Julep Jazz Band to be hired to perform at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing summer concert series for 2016, so when Michael Gamble asked me to perform at this year’s event, I was floored – on July 12, 2017, I’ll be singing with Michael Gamble at the Rhythm Serenaders at this truly amazing outdoor event, one that many New York dancers say is their favorite dance event in the city.   Midsummer Night Swing is three consecutive weeks of social dances to live music, highlighting musicians from all over the US and the world, under the stars at a lighted dance pavilion set up at the bandshell at Damrosch Park.  It’s a gorgeous event and I hope you will join us in New York for a night of awesome swing music and dancing!

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Glenn Crytzer Orchestra featuring Laura Windley – When I Get Low I Get High

I had an amazing time performing at New York Bal Week, an event that runs from Monday to Sunday, highlighting New York’s fantastic live bands and venues and focusing on Balboa, offering Balboa workshops over the weekend of the event.  This is one of those “only in New York” type of events and it was a delight and an honor to be asked to come up and perform for this event with Glenn Crytzer’s New Yorkers and his Orchestra.  Here’s a clip of me with the orchestra doing “When I Get Low I Get High” from the Saturday night dance – enjoy!

Ella at the Savoy: A Centennial Tribute – April 23, 2017

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In 1934, Ella Fitzgerald was a homeless teenager on the streets of Harlem with an incredible voice – she was discovered at the Apollo Theater’s famous amateur night that year and was quickly picked up by drumming powerhouse Chick Webb to perform in his orchestra. Chick Webb’s band was the most prominent of the house bands at the Savoy Ballroom, one of New York’s largest ballrooms, the only integrated ballroom in New York, and the birthplace of Lindy Hop. Before she was the First Lady of Song, Ella honed her skills as a big band singer with some of New York’s top working jazz musicians of the 1930’s.

April 25, 2017 marks Ella’s 100th birthday and, as a centennial tribute, a group of Triangle musicians has come together to celebrate her early work with the Chick Webb Orchestra and, in the years following Chick Webb’s death in 1939 at the height of the orchestra’s fame, leading the orchestra under her own name – Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra.

Come see the show on April 23, 2017 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Sharp Nine Gallery/Durham Jazz Workshop, 4608 Industry Lane, Suite L, Durham, NC – tickets are $20.00 and you can purchase them through Brown Paper Tickets.  For more information, visit the Sharp Nine Gallery website.

11767807_4Laura Windley – vocals
Kobie Watkins – drums
Jim Crew – piano
Peter Kimosh – bass
Chip Newton – guitar
Keenan McKenzie – reeds
Aaron Hill – reeds
Dan Hitchcock – reeds
Taylor Savage – reeds
Lucian Cobb – trombone
Evan Ringel – trombone
Jim Ketch – trumpet
Kyle Santos – trumpet
Paul Rogers – trumpet

Chick Webb Night Live Stream Recording

Here it is, 3 sets (and two encores!) of Chick Webb music in all its glory at Lindy Focus 2016!  As with any tribute, we hope that the band was able to capture the magic of a night at the Savoy Ballroom, with the most famous of the Savoy’s house bands.  Much love to everyone who contributed to the transcription project to make this dream a reality!

Transcriptions by Mark Lopeman, Dan Barrett, and Keenan McKenzie.  Performed by the Jonathan Stout Lindy Focus All-Star Orchestra, with Jonathan Stout (guitar), Chris Dawson (piano), Marquis Howell (bass), Josh Collazo (drums), Gordon Au (trumpet), Ken McGee (trumpet), Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet), Lucian Cobb (trombone), Dan Barrett (trombone), Albert Alva (reeds), Dan Levinson (reeds), Jonathan Doyle (reeds), Keenan McKenzie (reeds), and Laura Windley (vocals).

Big Band Revival: Chick Webb

sk1039-webb-chick-band-solo-shot-a-1938One of my favorite swing era bandleaders is Chick Webb, the king of the Savoy Ballroom and jazz drumming trailblazer, who incidentally hired my favorite jazz vocalist, Ella Fitzgerald, for her first gig as the “girl singer” in his band.  Chick Webb left this planet too early in 1939 and his legacy of songs lives in the recordings we listen and dance to, but the book of his arrangements is long gone.  Seeing a need and an opportunity to bring this music to life again, Michael and Jaya Gamble spearheaded an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money to transcribe 33 Chick Webb arrangements and make them available to the public following transcription and performance at Lindy Focus 2016.  The crowd funding goal of $17,000 was met in less than 24 hours and the swing dance community’s love and adoration of Chick Webb’s music is evident in this feat!

On December 29, 2016, the fruits of these labors will come to fruition in a performance of these transcribed Chick Webb charts, with Jonathan Stout leading the change with his Lindy Focus All Star Orchestra and I am beyond any measure of excited to be performing Ella Fitzgerald’s vocal tunes.  There is so much love in this project, so many people who want to share in this experience on many levels, it’s almost overwhelming for me to think about.  It’s all summarized here on the Lindy Focus page dedicated to this project, detailing the helpers, the backers, the list of songs and people who sponsored them, and the excitement continues to build up to the performance and, for some, the release of these charts so that other bands may carry this music into the future and perform it for an even bigger audience.

I am honored to be a part of the team putting all of this together, both as vocalist and working on the copyright aspects of the project.  Cheers to you all, I hope to see you on December 29 in Asheville!

The Carolina Shout Podcast with Ethan Uslan

the-carolina-shout-logo_origMy friend Ethan Uslan, he of the ragtime/old time/stride piano playing World Champion fame, received a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council and the Mecklenburg Arts Council to produce a podcast on ragtime and early jazz piano, which he has named The Carolina Shout.  Over the summer when the Mint Julep Jazz Band performed in Charlotte, I stopped by Ethan’s house and recorded two duets with Ethan that now appear on episodes 3 and 5 of his podcast.  All 10 episodes are available on iTunes, Stitcher, or via his website, and are chock full of Ethan’s humor, wit, early jazz knowledge, and his ebullient piano performances.  If your day needs a pick-me-up, this is where to get it!

Featured on Peter Lamb and the Wolves’ New Album “Carolina Tiger Milk”

1A couple of years ago my friend Peter Lamb of Peter Lamb and the Wolves invited me and Lucian Cobb to contribute a track to a bootleg album, featuring many local North Carolina musicians collaborating with his band, to be released as a reward for his second album’s Kickstarter.  Fast forward to this year and Peter Lamb decided that the album was too good to be kept a secret and has released the bootleg as a bona fide album, Carolina Tiger Milk.  Lucian did the arrangement and trombone performance on the track “I’m Evil” and yours truly provided the vocals for this Una Mae Carlisle cover.  You can pick up a copy of the album on iTunes or wherever the Wolves are performing.

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Videos from Nevermore Jazz Ball in St. Louis

I’m excited to share with you two videos from the Nevermore Jazz Ball 2016 this past weekend in St. Louis, one of the encore/jam circle from the Saturday night dance at the historic Casa Loma Ballroom, with the band killing it on “Your Mother’s Son-In-Law” and the other of a beautiful new-to-me song, “It’s Like Reaching for the Moon.”  Thanks so much to Voon Chew for capturing these moments on film and to Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders for inviting me to be a part of the action!  Enjoy!

 

Fall Tour 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders

I have a few local gigs with the Mint Julep Jazz Band here and there this fall, but the bulk of my October and November performance schedule will be traveling with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders to swing dance events far and wide!  Here are the events and cities I’ll be visiting soon:

October 14-15, 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the Slow Dance Soiree, Rochester, NY

October 28-29, 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the Atlanta Varsity Showdown, Atlanta, GA – with costume night on Friday!

November 4-5, 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the Nevermore Jazz Ball, St. Louis, MO – Saturday night at the historic Casa Loma Ballroom!

November 11-12, 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at Whistle Stop, West Lafayette, IN

November 18-19, 2016 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders and the Craig Gildner Big Band at the Austin Lindy Exchange, Austin, TX

Hope to see you at one (or some) of these events, come up and say hello!