1930’s

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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Big Band Revival: Jimmie Lunceford

20245792_1883076361945181_6443729510126131418_nIn the second installment of transcribing arrangements for an entire night dance music from one swing era bandleader, Jimmie Lunceford is on deck and the Indiegogo campaign is live to raise the funds to transcribe all these arrangements and then make them available to the public for bandleaders to purchase for their own bands to perform (or, as in some cases, for dance communities to purchase for their local big band to perform!)   Michael Gamble covers a lot of bases in the video (posted below and in the Indiegogo campaign, about how the Chick Webb project worked from start to finish (and to print) and how we are doing it all over again to bring Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra back to life for one dance-long night of music.  Please do watch the video, there are a lot of interesting things about this project, some digging into the national archives for existing arrangements (in whole or in part), and some unique things about Lunceford’s band.  Once again, I’m delighted to be working on the transcription project with a team of people dedicated to making sure this music is performed again! #teamLunceford

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!

Nashville Dance Congress – May 5-6, 2017

We don’t see a lot of arts grant money going to social dance events, so it’s rare and wonderful that organizers of the Nashville Dance Congress have been the beneficiaries of a grant allowing them to provide a weekend of FREE dance classes from renowned instructors and social dances to live and DJ’ed music!  Featured dance genres are Salsa, Bachata, Ballroom Cabaret, West Coast Swing, Kizomba, Tango, Zouk, Lindy Hop, Balboa, and more!  I’m excited that the Mint Julep Jazz Band was invited to be a part of this inaugural event  – we’ll be performing three sets over the weekend, Friday and Saturday nights from 11:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., and a Saturday afternoon set from 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

If you are staying at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel, this event is free!  For more information or if you are not staying at the hotel, visit the Nashville Dance Congress website.

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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).

Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders Debut Album

artworks-000166341762-hqhg9n-t500x500Be sure to pick up a copy of Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders new self-titled debut album, featuring some of my favorite swing jazz musicians and yours truly.  We recorded this album right after Lindy Focus in Asheville, NC at Isis Music Hall – we were all in town, so why not record an album?  You can find me on 4 tracks on the album, but if you purchase the album through iTunes you get bonus tracks, including another vocal tune!  I am so fortunate to have opportunities to record and perform, both through my own band and with Michael, and for this I am truly grateful, and grateful for all the support we have received from the swing dance community, who make all of these musical endeavors possible.

Rolling Sculpture Art Deco Car Exhibit – September 29, 2016

When the North Carolina Museum of Art reached out to the Mint Julep Jazz Band about performing at their Art Deco car exhibit, the response was a resounding yes – 30’s and 40’s machines of beauty plus music from the same era?  Yes, please!

We’ll be opening the Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars from the 1930s and ’40s exhibit with a soiree on September 29 featuring food, cocktails, and hot jazz amongst the rolling sculptures featured in the exhibit.  Band plays from 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  This is the first of many cool events surrounding this exhibit, check out the NCMA Rolling Sculpture exhibit webpage to see what’s in store in the coming months!

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Bearden Music Series, July 9, 2016 – Charlotte, NC

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The dance floor at last year’s concert.

It was an honor when Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation invited the Mint Julep Jazz Band to be a part of the Bearden Music Series again this year, after having a fantastic turnout at last year’s outdoor concert.  We’ll be performing a free concert on July 9, 2016 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Bearden Park, a lovely outdoor space admidst the tall buildings of uptown Charlotte.

Bring a lawn chair or blanket and some summer eats (or pick up dinner from one of the food trucks) and relax under the sunset and stars during the concert, or take advantage of the dance floor and a free swing dance lesson by Gottaswing Charlotte on the first band break.

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We’re hoping for the same beautiful weather we had last year!

Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
Charlotte, NC

6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Admission is FREE.

See you soon, Charlotte!

June is amazing!

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Lincoln Center’s band shell and dance pavilion at Damrosch Park.

Seriously, it’s going to be one of the best months for the Mint Julep Jazz Band and, thus, for myself – here’s a rundown of the goodness to come:

June 3 – Mint Julep Quintet is performing at Beyu Caffe, our local jazz and supper club at its new spacious and wonderful location. Durham, come hear your hometown swing band!

June 4Live Love Lindy is Winston-Salem’s first and NC’s only Lindy exchange for 2016! Looking forward to returning to the fabulous Vintage Theater (and its teeny tiny stage, it’s going to be tight for 8 people!) with the Mint Julep Jazz Band and also looking forward to performing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at Camel City BBQ for the Saturday late night dance!

June 16-19 – I’ll be making my annual pilgrimage to Cleveland for All Balboa Weekend to pull triple duty: 1) DJ’ing, 2) performing at the Friday night dance with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders, and 3) performing at the Saturday night dance with the Mint Julep Jazz Band.

June 24 – I am still pinching myself to make sure this is real and not a dream, the Mint Julep Jazz Band is performing at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing!  We are flying to New York to perform at this wonderful event, part of a three week concert series with social dancing to live music in an outdoor pavilion under the stars in Damrosch Park!  I’ll tell you if it was a dream at the end of the month… 😉

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