Mwenso and The Shakes

Mo' Beat Mondays Presents

Mwenso and The Shakes

The Big Takeover

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm


This event is 21 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.”
The Big Takeover
The Big Takeover
Since 2007, the New York six-piece The Big Takeover has been fulfilling the mission implied in their name: packing clubs in the city and upstate and building their brand and reputation on the road and in the studio. A far cry from the pop-punk of American ska, The Big Takeover take their cues from Desmond Dekker and the first wave of Jamaican pop music as well as from the soulful energy and sophistication of Motown. At the center of this tight, grooving ensemble is the live-wire singing and deceptively subtle songwriting of the Jamaican-born NeeNee Rushie, a powerhouse performer who makes the audience feel like accomplices more than spectators. Traditional and experimental, The Big Takeover’s global blend reveals deep fluency in reggae and world music, hints of soul, and a pop classicism that is their own thing entirely. In New York’s musically hopping Mid-Hudson Valley, they are only the band around that is welcomed and honored at all the major national-circuit rooms: the indie/experimental haven of BSP in Kingston, the jazz and blues gem that is the Falcon in Marlboro, the classic rock mecca of the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock. The Big Takeover packs them all. On the road, the band has played over 500 shows, sharing stages with The Original Wailers, Jefferson Starship, Eek-a- Mouse, the Slackers and more. The band is currently in the studio working on their fourth full- length record, and planning a national tour to celebrate its release.
Venue Information:
Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11249

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