jazz

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!

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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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

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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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

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!

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.