Mwenso and the Shakes with Humbalaya, Emotio

Mwenso and the Shakes with Humbalaya, Emotio

Humbalaya, Emotio

Mon · April 16, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 7:30 pm


This event is 18 and over

Mwenso and the Shakes
Mwenso and the Shakes
Mwenso commands a formidable timeline of jazz and blues expression, accrued in a hands-on, autodidactic manner. Born in 1984, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in West Africa, he began singing and playing piano at age 11, a year after moving with his mother to London, England. Soon thereafter, he started playing trombone in school, while beginning to immerse himself in American jazz and roots music. The process was facilitated by his mother’s decision not to leave him home alone at nights while she worked as a nightclub hostess, but instead to bring him to the world-renowned Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club to be looked after by the club’s floor manager, a family friend. Over the next several years, Mwenso had the unique opportunity to witness concerts by and pick the brains of jazz giants like Elvin Jones, Betty Carter, Benny Carter, Tommy Flanagan and Johnny Griffin. Between the ages of 14 and 16, he developed a relationship with James Brown, who gave Mwenso the signal honor of presenting him as a singer and dancer in his London shows during those years.

At 13, Mwenso played in a jump-oriented band called the Jive Aces, singing repertoire by Louis Prima and Louis Jordan. After leaving school at 16, Mwenso further honed his skills, playing trombone in reggae and Afrobeat horn sections (one employer was drum legend Tony Allen), and in jam sessions in a Hackney club with American expat drummer Clifford Jarvis and London’s strongest African- and Caribbean-descended hardcore jazz musicians. He led his own bands, too, performing locally and on the road. In 2006, Mwenso began to focus on singing, most consequentially in a four-voice group with Cleveland Watkiss, Jonathan Gee and Winston Clifford, all proficient musicians, doing repertoire that included high-velocity bebop vocalese and scat, the blues, and Black American folk music. They performed not infrequently at Ronnie Scott’s, where Mwenso established a late night jam session in 2007.

Mwenso first connected with Wynton Marsalis in 1997, after the trumpet master had performed a concert at London’s Barbican Theater. They remained in touch through 2009, when Marsalis played a week at Ronnie Scott’s, personally witnessed the fruits of Mwenso’s programming and organizational acumen, and invited him to assume the position he has held at Jazz at Lincoln Center since 2012. His mandate has been to book Dizzy’s in ways that might attract a younger audience, while retaining values consistent with Marsalis’ “all jazz is modern” mantra.

“You’re getting a generation of holistic musicians,” Mwenso says, including himself among them. “They love Louis Armstrong just as much as Woody Shaw, Sidney Bechet as much as Ornette Coleman. They want to be free in all styles of music—free in themselves. We’re figuring out ways to play this music as art, but as entertainment, too.”
Journeying through fire, water, and air in search of the ultimate musical flavor since 2015.
Humbalaya strives to break down the genre barrier, blending sound and sensation into one tasty dish that is perfect for hungry humans, extraterrestrials, and sprites alike.
Humbalaya, along with our intergalactic companions, Tomato Dodgers, founded the DIY venue The Void, and an independent label for creation of all kinds, VoidLife Records, in 2015. Together we have helped transform the College Park music scene into one of creative abundance, and opened a portal for bands from all around the globe to reach a unique and engaged audience.
Additionally, the VoidLife Records family has helped Humbalaya curate two of our own festivals in the sweet green of western Connecticut called “Shermfest.” Many more to come!
We are looking to embark on our first extended tour this summer, and hope to share our sound with as many beings as possible - on Earth and beyond.
Vegan Space Metal/Bubble-Bath Jazz/Shitpost Rock/Neo Necro Disco/Heavy Meta
Venue Information:
MilkBoy ArtHouse
7416 Baltimore Ave
College Park, MD, 20740