“The Mint Julep Jazz Band has a wonderful ensemble sound: often fuller than their four-horn, three rhythm congregation would lead you to expect. Their intonation is on target, their unison passages are elegantly done but never stiff. And they swing. They sound like a working band that would have had a good time making the dancers sweat and glow at the Savoy or the Renny.” – Michael Steinman, Jazz Lives
With their little big band lineup of 4 horns, rhythm section, and vocalist, the Mint Julep Jazz Band recreates the hot jazz sounds of the 1920′s, 1930′s, and early 1940’s through arrangements based on original recordings from the jazz age and swing era and original tunes inspired by that time period. The Mint Julep Jazz Band is based out of Durham, North Carolina and is led by trombonist Lucian Cobb and vocalist/swing DJ Laura Windley, who have put their collective knowledge and love of swing music together to create an ideal dance band for swing dancers. Conceived in the fall of 2011, the Mint Julep Jazz Band formed to fulfill the musical needs of a thriving local swing dance community in the Triangle area of North Carolina, drawing its musicians from the educators and former students of North Carolina universities with vibrant jazz programs.
In 2012, after being “discovered” at a wedding, the band recorded an original song for Sesame Street, which aired on April 18, 2013 in an episode featuring Jon Hamm of Mad Men fame. In 2016, the band performed at Lincoln Center as part of their Midsummer Night Swing concert series. The Mint Julep Jazz Band continues to tour and perform for swing dancers, traveling to Lindy Hop and Balboa events from Orlando to Austin to New York and beyond.
The Mint Julep Jazz Band released their second album, Battle Axe, in July of 2015, after raising over $14,000 on Kickstarter, with backers representing swing dancers, DJs, and early jazz enthusiasts from countries all over the world, including Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea, Brazil, Austria, Italy, Russia, and Switzerland.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What kind of music do you play?
We focus on music from the 1930’s, but some late 1920’s and early 1940’s tunes do find their way into the mix. The band will be playing arrangements that are either transcribed from original recordings or reproductions of original recordings (or a combination of both – sometimes having a hi-fi reference helps a lot) and arrangements that our maestro Lucian Cobb creates on his own, based on songs from this era. Most importantly, this music will swing! We are a dance band first and foremost, so our goal is to keep you on the dance floor.
Influences include Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, Fats Waller, Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, the Boswell Sisters, Annette Hanshaw, Chick Webb, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Jack Teagarden, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Oscar Aleman, and many other wonderful and talented jazz artists of the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s.
2. How many people are in the band?
Mint Julep Jazz Band is an 8 piece band, giving us a 3 piece rhythm section with 4 horns, plus a vocalist. With this format, we are able to play arrangements of big band or smaller group charts, giving us a fuller sound than a jazz combo. We are also able to offer a more affordable alternative to a big band. We can also add a piano player, upon request, bringing the count up to 9.
3. Will you have a smaller group?
We can put together a sextet with members of the Mint Julep Jazz Band, which we refer to as the Mint Julep Quintet featuring Laura Windley. The format and song list are different with the sextet, but our focus is still on earlier styles of jazz. The sextet is not set up to play for swing dances, but is more ideal for performances at restaurants, bars, or private parties.
4. Who is in the band?
We’d like to have a set lineup, but in the jazz world this is not always possible – some of our band members have bands of their own, so we are fortunate enough to have other jazz musicians that we have worked with in the past to fill their shoes. Our main lineup includes Paul Rogers/Jim Ketch on trumpet, Keenan McKenzie on tenor saxophone/clarinet/soprano saxophone, Aaron Hill on alto saxophone/clarinet, Aaron Tucker on drums, Jason Foureman on bass, Ben Lassiter/Chip Newton on guitar, Lucian Cobb on trombone, and Laura Windley on vocals. We will also feature other great jazz musicians from the Triangle and beyond who we enjoy performing with and will lend their unique talents to this endeavor.
5. Where do you play?
Our bread and butter is swing dances, but we also enjoy performing for wedding events, community events, outdoor festivals, jazz societies, schools, private parties, charity events/fundraisers, historic and reenactment-related events, Gatsby-themed events, World War II-themed events and, really, anywhere that people enjoy music. We do travel outside of the Triangle area of North Carolina and welcome gig opportunities in other cities and states.
6. How can I receive email updates about the Mint Julep Jazz Band’s shows and activities?
It’s easy! Click here to sign up to receive a monthly newsletter with updates on upcoming shows. To receive notifications of updates to the website blog, click the subscribe button in the sidebar of this website.
7. How much does it cost to hire the Mint Julep Jazz Band?
Our pricing will vary, depending on location, travel time, the duration of the gig, and other factors. Please email us at email@example.com for a quote.
8. Where can I buy your music?
We have two albums out, Battle Axe (released in July, 2015) and Durham on Saturday Night (released in April, 2013) and both are available for purchase at our shows and online at CD Baby (physical and digital copies) and a number of other online digital retailers, including Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and eMusic.