Vocals

Keenan McKenzie Releases Album of Original Swing Music

23659509_10103419847799641_1131617545580786145_nIf you love Keenan McKenzie’s original tunes and arrangements on the Mint Julep Jazz Band albums, you can now get even more of this great music in your life – Keenan is releasing a brand new album of original swing music written by the maestro himself called Forged in Rhythm, available now for preview and pre-order on Bandcamp and full release coming December 5!  I am excited that Keenan decided to write 7 original vocal tunes (in addition to the 8 instrumental tunes) and invited me to sing on his debut release – what a magical thing to be the first to sing a song!  We had such fun recording this album in Los Angeles in August and I’ve been eagerly anticipating sharing this album with all of you.

Here’s Keenan’s post about the album release:

“If you’d asked me a few years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined my first album would be 15 radio-length songs, all in 4/4 time. I now owe so much to the dance community that it’s hard to imagine it going any other way. Swing music has provided some unforgettable experiences and introduced me to a world of wonderful people, including Allison Meeks (you make my heart go thump thump thump!)

I’m thrilled to announce the upcoming release of FORGED IN RHYTHM. This album of original tunes is a celebration of my favorite ‘30s/‘40s musicians and a love letter to the swing dance scene. I got to work with some phenomenal players and great friends, and we had a blast making this record. I can’t wait for you to hear it!

Keenan McKenzie……………reeds
Gordon Au…………………..trumpet
Lucian Cobb……………..trombone
Jonathan Stout……………….guitar
Chris Dawson………………….piano
Seth Ford-Young………………bass
Josh Collazo………………….drums
Laura Windley………………..vocals
Miles Senzaki……………..engineer

Artwork and design by Ryan Calloway Art

Available December 5th on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and more!”

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Photograph by Brad Nathanson Photography

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St. Louis and San Francisco

I feel like it’s a year of firsts in terms of travel for me, so my next “first” is my first time not flying home between weekend gigs.  I’ll start my week of travel adventures in St. Louis for the Nevermore Jazz Ball, performing at the Saturday night and Sunday night main dances with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders.  Saturday night is at the historic Casa Loma Ballroom, where many great bands from the swing era performed.  Check out the video below for some footage of us performing in this amazing ballroom last year at Nevermore (video thanks to Voon Chew):

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Once Nevermore wraps, I’m heading to San Francisco to perform with the Rhythm Serenaders again at Fog City Stomp at the Thursday night and Saturday night main dances.  I’ll also be DJ’ing at the Friday night dance (with Clint Baker’s Golden Gate Swing Band on the bandstand) and participating in a panel discussion before the Friday dance on live music and the swing dance community.  This will be my first trip to San Francisco and I’m excited to have a few days to see the sights, shop the shops, and eat the eats!

See you soon Mid-West and West Coast!

Fall 2017

There’s a nice mix of performances coming up, a little dancing, a little listening, a little of both – hope to see you at one of these upcoming dates!

September 29-30, 2017 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at Classic City Swing, Athens, GA – a wonderful workshop weekend at the University of Georgia, it will be a mix of visiting with family and performing with this swingin’ band.

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MJJB at the Duck Jazz Festival in 2015

October 7, 2017 Mint Julep Jazz Band at the Duck Jazz Festival, Duck, NC – the festival is expanding to add a performance on Saturday afternoon (us!) with a swing dance lesson between sets, come join us on the coast for this wonderful festival with enthusiastic jazz fans.

October 8, 2017 Ella at the Savoy: A Centennial Tribute, UNC’s Kenan Music Building rehearsal hall, Chapel Hill, NC – one of my pet projects honoring the unparalleled Ella Fitzgerald and her early work with the Chick Webb Orchestra and with Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra.

October 19, 2017 Mint Julep Jazz Band at the North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, NC – this is not only our first performance at the State Fair, but my first time ever at the State Fair!  As a lifelong North Carolinian, I’m looking forward to finally being able to attend.

October 20-21, 2017  Mint Julep Jazz Band at Jammin’ on the James, Richmond, VA – excited to be performing for the first time with the Mint Julep Jazz Band at an event that is near and dear to my heart.  My very first workshop weekend as a baby Lindy Hopper was at JOTJ and organizers Rita Shiang and Andy Nishida put on a top notch event, now in its 15th year.

Hurricane Irma Pending – KLX and Let’s Dance Boston

klx-15-no-background-yellowAs a child of coastal North Carolina, I take hurricanes very seriously, so my next travel update is pending the chosen path of Hurricane Irma.  This weekend, which should occur without being affected, I’ll be singing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders on September 8 and 9, 2017 at the Knoxville Lindy Exchange!  In its 17th year, I look forward to singing and also DJ’ing at the late night dances.

My next bit of travel is more uncertain – if all goes well, I’ll be flying to Boston to perform at Let’s Dance Boston on September 13, 2017 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders for one night of dancing to swing music with an outdoor stage and dance pavillion.

First and foremost is safety – everyone stay safe if you are in Irma’s path!

Double Header Weekend – I Heart Bal and Camp Hollywood

CH-Flyer_2017_Front copyI may be a madwoman, but if I don’t make it I’m at least going out in a blaze of glory – this Labor Day weekend I will embark on a trip to perform at two dance events in the same weekend.  Perhaps this is not so much a feat for full time musicians, but as a full time attorney with a side hustle as a musician, this is new territory for me!  I’m excited because these events are near and dear to my heart – I Heart Bal in Richmond, VA (with the Mint Julep Jazz Band), for being a most endearing and nerdy Bal event in the sister city of Richmond, and Camp Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA (with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders), which is an event that has been on my bucket list since I was a wee Lindy Hopper.  Both of these events are run by women I admire and respect, Erica Vess and Hilary Alexander, respectively.  Both of these events also call for special wardrobing – I can’t say that I will have unicorn, pirate, and beach pajamas outfits in my suitcase for every performance weekend!  I can’t wait to see my east coast and west coast dance and music friends all in one weekend!

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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).