Vocals

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.

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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

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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).

That New Old Sound – A Compilation Album to Benefit the ACLU

a2618128978_16Swing bandleader Glenn Crytzer wanted to do something to make a difference, so he had this idea of a compilation album of modern day swing and traditional jazz bands coming together to contribute music to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union.  After reaching out to 16 bands (including the Mint Julep Jazz Band!), fundraising, organizing the production of this album, and getting the blessing of the ACLU, the album is ready for purchase!  Pick up a copy of That New Old Sound on Bandcamp, either digital or physical, and if you order by December 17, he’ll ship it to you in time for Christmas – an extra $2.00 and he’ll even gift wrap it for you.  All the proceeds from the sale of this album go to the ACLU to support the defense and preservation of civil liberties

Who’s on this album?  Lots of swing and early jazz goodness from all over the United States, including, of course, Glenn Crytzer (New York), Tuba Skinny (New Orleans), Greg Ruby and the Rhythm Runners (Seattle), Dandy Wellington and his Band (New York), the Boilermaker Jazz Band (Pittsburgh), Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five (Los Angeles), Dan Levinson and his Canary Cottage Dance Orchestra (New York), Gordon Webster (New York), Mint Julep Jazz Band (Durham, NC), Mona’s Hot Four (New York), Solomon Douglas (Seattle/New York/a boat somewhere off the coast of Australia), the Grand Street Stompers (New York), Jonathan Doyle Swingtet (Austin/Chicago), Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns (New Orleans), George Gee Swing Orchestra (New York), and Baby Soda (New York).

I am excited to be a part of this compilation album, a great gift idea for any jazz lover or to give someone as a sampler of what’s going on with early jazz today, and to do a small part to contribute to the greater good.

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!