The terms “jazz” and “swing” can conjure very different imagery and sounds, depending on who you ask. With that in mind, it can be difficult to describe the music we perform in the Mint Julep Jazz Band. When most people think of “jazz,” what usually comes to mind is smaller combos playing bebop, modern jazz, straight ahead jazz, or standards. The term “swing” tends to bring up thoughts of Glenn Miller’s recording of “In the Mood,” Benny Goodman’s recording of “Sing Sing Sing,” or even Louis Prima’s “Jump, Jive, and Wail.” While the understanding of these terms may be more of a pop culture reference to most, it’s kind of like saying all music from the 1970′s is disco, or all music from the 1980′s is new wave – the terms jazz and swing have a much broader definition, with jazz as the umbrella term and swing as a subset of jazz.
So where does the Mint Julep Jazz Band fit into swing and jazz?
Jazz, in its earliest form, originated in the early 20th century. In terms of a timeline, the Mint Julep Jazz Band doesn’t go all the way back to the beginning of jazz, but does pick up jazz shortly thereafter. In the 1920′s, jazz grew to prominence and began to gain mass appeal, thanks to the popularity of radio and enhancements in recording technology. The Mint Julep Jazz Band plays several arrangements of jazz tunes from this era, primarily from the late 1920′s.
Jazz continued to gain popularity into the 1930′s, and began to take on the name “swing.” Most of the music we play is from the 1930′s and early 1940′s, which was the height of the swing era. This music is still jazz and, at the time, was America’s pop music – it was the music that filled the dance halls and airwaves, it was trendy and was associated with youth culture. We believe this music was popular because it is so much fun – it’s toe-tapping music, has a great energy, and is a joy to perform.
Thus, it’s possible for us to be both a jazz band and a swing band because the terms overlap. We hope you’ll come to one of our shows and hear some of this music firsthand – even within early jazz and swing, there are different sounds and subsets to keep things interesting, and we think you’ll like what you hear!
We’re looking forward to our Durham debut performance on Thursday, February 23, 2012 at Durham’s weekly Lindy Hop and Swing dance night at Hot Club of Durham, with the band hosted by RDU Rent Party! RDU Rent Party is a pay-what-you-can swing dance where all the donations taken at the door go to the band at the end of the night. The idea is twofold: no one should be denied good music simply because they can’t afford the admission price and that the musicians should reap the benefits of any donations collected as a show of appreciation for their talents. Everyone is welcome at this event – this is a large venue and there will be plenty of seating at tables for people who are not dancing.
Also making her debut with the Mint Julep Jazz Band is DJ Sarah Ovenall, host of WXDU’s Divaville Lounge, which highlights “great songs and singers from Tin Pan Alley to the swing era,” every Sunday from 2-4 p.m. on 88.7 FM. If you’ve ever heard Sarah’s show, you know that she has an extensive music collection from the jazz age and swing era. She’s up for this new DJ challenge and we’re excited to hear her first set for dancers!
Hot Club of Durham
410 W. Geer Street
8:00 p.m. – Beginner lesson
9:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. – The Mint Julep Jazz Band and DJ Sarah Ovenall
RDU Rent Party is pay-what-you-can with a suggested $10 minimum donation
The Facebook invite: http://www.facebook.com/events/234356989972442/
For more information, visit
The Mint Julep Jazz Band is excited to be included in the lineup for The Art of Cool Project‘s concert series at LabourLove Gallery in Durham, North Carolina. We’ll be their featured band for the May 18, 2012 concert, but until then there are a lot of things going on with this jazz advocacy non-profit that may interest you.
What is The Art of Cool Project? From their website: “The Art of Cool Project is a jazz (also music with jazz roots) and art advocacy project that strives to cross artistic, economic, and cultural boundaries to bring together a diverse mix of people and creativity. We are dedicated to promoting the local vibrant, varied, and surprisingly under-appreciated music and art scene. The project is a unique collaboration between the music and art communities to bring both creative mediums to supporters in an intimate concert setting.”
The Art of Cool Project is a creative philanthropic project spearheaded by Mint Julep Jazz Band trumpeter, Albert Strong IV, and Cicely Mitchell, Al’s amazing girlfriend, social media guru, and jazz advocacy superwoman.
A recent addition to The Art of Cool Project’s website is a jazz calendar for the Triangle, which will include all forms of jazz and displays a running calendar that you can check to see what is happening this week, next month, and beyond. The Mint Julep Jazz Band will be submitting our public concerts to this list and we would encourage other Triangle area jazz groups to utilize this resource.
What can you do to support this worthwhile non-profit? A few things:
2) Donate to the Holiday Chair Campaign – thus far, the AOC Project has had to rent 80 chairs for each of their concerts. To keep costs down, they are running a Holiday Chair Campaign to raise money to buy chairs for the concert series. A donation of $40 will fund one the chairs and get your name (or name of a loved one or business) painted on the back of the chair as well as preferred seating for the concerts with RSVP.
4) Check the jazz calendar regularly and support the Art of Cool Project’s concert series (every third Friday of the month at LabourLove Gallery) and other local jazz artists.
5) Come to LabourLove Gallery on May 18 to hear the Mint Julep Jazz Band!