INTRODUCING HARLEM BASED BAND MWENSO & THE SHAKES
DEBUT ALBUM EMERGENCE OUT
AUGUST 2 ON ROPEADOPE RECORDS
“NO REGRETS” PREMIERES ON JAZZIZ
WILL PERFORM AT NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL
AND CHARLIE PARKER JAZZ FESTIVAL
WITH SPECIAL GUEST FRED WESLEY

“Mr. Mwenso, a Sierra Leonean vocalist, comes from the jazz world, but his messages arrive in the form of a growl, not a croon, and his band, the Shakes, is a thrashing hybrid whose concerts often take the form of a prewar revue. If a tap dancer arrives to blow your mind midsong, don’t say you weren’t warned.”—The New York Times
Harlem based band Mwenso & The Shakes’ debut album, Emergence, is set for release on August 2 via Ropeadope Records. The band’s new single, “No Regrets,” premieres on JAZZIZ, who calls the group, “…a unique troupe of global artists presenting music that merges entertainment and artistry.” Listen/share the song here: http://bit.ly/2Sipaec

Driven by bandleader and lead vocalist Michael Mwenso’s deep ancestral understanding of the African-American music tradition, Emergence came together through many late nights in the band’s loft in Harlem exploring music outside of the traditional classroom using free-form musical expression. Hailing from many corners of the world including Sierra Leone, London, South Africa, Greenwich Village, Madagascar, France, Jamaica and Hawaii the band gains inspiration from each of their unique backgrounds while cohesively collaborating in a spontaneously communal and improvisational environment.

Of Emergence, Mwenso says, “This album is very personal to the musical and spiritual growth of Mwenso & The Shakes. Our music has become something that expresses empowering messages of love. The variety of musical styles that is presented here is something we have diligently, as a group, been working on over the last few years. I truly believe there is something for everyone on this album. I want people to listen to Emergence like they are in the audience. Close your eyes, put it on and imagine you are there with us on the journey.”

Additionally, the band will continue to take their lauded live show on the road this summer with headlining performances at New York’s Charlie Parker Jazz Festival with special guest Fred Wesley and an album release show at Chelsea Music Hall as well as a performance at Newport Jazz Festival. Tickets are available now at mwensoandshakes.com/tour. More dates to be announced soon.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Leitzell

Michel Mwenso was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone but spent his teenage years hanging out at the legendary jazz club Ronnie Scott’s in London where he was exposed to musicians such as Benny Carter, Elvin Jones, Ray Brown and Billy Higgins. In his youth, Mwenso started honing his talents as a trombonist, singer and performer playing in jump bands, reggae and Afrobeat horn sections and at hard-bop sessions. Mwenso’s talent as a performer caught the attention of many, which subsequently lead him to meet James Brown who allotted space for him to sing and dance at his London shows.

In 2012, friend and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis brought Mwenso to New York City to serve as curator and programming associate at Jazz at Lincoln Center where he also booked nightly sets at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Over the next few years, Mwenso booked and performed with the likes of Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jon Batiste, Aaron Diehl, Sullivan Fortner and Jamison Ross.

Through these performances at Dizzy’s Mwenso began to collaborate with a wide variety of Juilliard trained musicians, which soon became known as The Shakes. These unique group of global artists present music that merges entertainment and artistry with a formidable timeline of jazz and blues through African and Afro American music. Taking from the styling of Fats Waller, Muddy Waters, James Brown and many other American musical legends.
Mwenso & The Shakes are Mwenso (bandleader, vocals), Vuyo Sotashe (vocals), Kyle Poole (drums), Gabe Schnider (guitar), Mathis Picard (piano and keys), Ruben Fox (tenor sax), Julian Lee (tenor sax), Russell Hall (bass) and Michela Marino Lerman (tap dance).

EMERGENCE TRACKLIST
1. Overture
2. Resolute
3. Sweet Thing
4. Know the God In You
5. Echoes of Spring
6. Strength Will Keep You Here (Interlude)
7. Brilliant Corners
8. You Can Do No Wrong
9. Big Spender
10. I Loves You, Porgy
11. No Regrets
12. No One As Special As You (Coda)

MWENSO & THE SHAKES LIVE
August 1—New York, NY—Chelsea Music Hall
August 2—Newport, RI—Newport Jazz Festival
August 4—Erie, PA—Erie Jazz Festival
August 16—Harleysville, PA—Philadelphia Folk Festival
August 23—New York, NY—Charlie Parker Jazz Festival at Marcus Garvey Park
September 6-8—Greensboro, NC—North Carolina Folk Festival
September 21—White Plains, NY—White Plains Jazz Festival
September 28—Auburn, MA—Arcadia Folk Festival