big band

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

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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!

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!

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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Classic City Swing – Athens, GA September 16-17, 2016

The Mint Julep Jazz Band‘s very first gig in Georgia will be Classic City Swing, a weekend of workshops and dances in Athens, Georgia! We’ll be playing the Friday night and Saturday night main dances at the New Dance Theater on the University of Georgia’s campus. Don’t worry, it’s not a home football game weekend, so you can avoid the traffic and the parking issues! With a large lineup of instructors, this promises to be a big weekend of dancing – for more information, visit the Classic City Swing website.

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The Process in Richmond, VA – July 22, 2016

The Mint Julep Jazz Band is returning to The Process in Richmond, Virginia this year, to perform at the Friday night main dance on July 22, 2016!  This Lindy Hop workshop weekend is unique in that it focuses on “the process of learning, teaching, and performing,” but definitely offers more than just workshops – there’s a ton of live music, including MJJB, Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders (who I’ll be joining for the Friday late night!), the Low Down Sires, the Resonant Rogues, and 504 Supreme.  Come swing out with us for a weekend of focused learning and amazing dancing!

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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!