Durhamites, be sure to pick up a copy of the April, 2016 issue of Durham Magazine for a feature on the Mint Julep Jazz Band! Durham Magazine writer Sophia Lucente interviewed Laura Windley, Lucian Cobb, and Keenan McKenzie to put together this snapshot of the band’s history and life in Durham. You can read the article (as well as the entire issue) online here or read just the article in an online-friendly format here.
If you’ve got a family member who would really enjoy our music or maybe you’d like to get a little gift for yourself, you can take advantage of CD Baby’s 1 cent shipping offer – from November 30 through December 4, 2015, CD Baby will ship all physical copies of albums they sell for 1 cent, no matter how many CDs you buy no matter where you live in the world! CD Baby is the only place you can buy physical copies of our albums outside of our shows, so this is definitely the place to do your MJJB holiday shopping. 🙂
We had such a great time last night at our Battle Axe album release party at Blue Note Grill! Here are some photos from this momentous occasion, thanks so much to everyone who came out to the show!
To celebrate the release of the Mint Julep Jazz Band’s new album Battle Axe, we are going to do a Front to Back concert, wherein we perform the entirety of Battle Axe from track 1 all the way through track 16 in order!
This is a free show at the wonderful new Blue Note Grill location near the old Durham Bulls field in the warehouse district – there will be much more room to dance! Join us for dinner at 8:00 p.m., show begins at 9:00 p.m. and runs until we finish!
If you still need to pick up a copy of the album, we’ll have plenty on hand at the show, or you can buy it just about anywhere digital music is sold – CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify…
See you Wednesday! Try the ribs!
Thanks so much to Michael Steinman of the Jazz Lives blog for this detailed and wonderful review of Battle Axe! We are delighted to be included on his blog, with his thoughtful research and review of the many jazz giants performing traditional jazz of yesteryear and of today.
If you love traditional jazz and swing, I would recommend following Michael’s blog – it is comprehensive, updated regularly, and features wonderful artists, both new and old. Michael’s dedication to the research, review, and enjoyment of this music and the artists definitely shows in his writing.
With our new album out and not a lot of information that we’re able to fit on one side of a CD sleeve, we get questions about Battle Axe logistics, so here are some behind the scenes tidbits about the conception and creation of Battle Axe, accompanied by fantastic photos from our Sunday recording session taken by our documentarian in residence, Alexandrea Thomsen (aka dtownperspective).
Conceptually, it is difficult to come up with a direction for a second album – we wanted to deliver a solid album of dance music, take some creative liberties, showcase a range of tempos, and keep everything fun. With the idea that there are many jazz albums whose cover art verges on lackluster or isn’t eye-catching, we wanted to do something cool. And when I say cool, I probably mean nerdy. Would I buy this album and/or be intrigued by the title/cover art?
One of our local Triangle area dancers, Skyler Hinkel, is an avid video gamer and metal fan – death metal, pirate metal, folk metal, everything. He suggested that Mint Julep Jazz Band be a battle swing band and forge a new genre of swing music where all of our songs had something to do with battles. While the execution of a battle swing band would have been out of our reach in time for an album, the idea stuck and we decided, based on the Jimmie Lunceford tune in our book by the same name, to call the album Battle Axe and include some other conflict-oriented tunes.
With this concept in mind and prior to recording, we announced the title of the album on our Facebook wall, which garnered a great response, including one from Ryan Lemar, a swing dancer and instructor in Richmond, VA, who suggested that all of our albums should be named after weapons and rattled off a list, including a trebuchet. Our tenor player, Keenan McKenzie, who is also a whiz on the soprano sax, took this idea and ran with it, writing an original tune called “Trebuchet” that is very much in the vein of something Sidney Bechet might have scribbled down – très Bechet, even!
Keenan also wrote the original tune “The Dwindling Light by the Sea” and arranged “Say It Isn’t So,” “You Can’t Live in Harlem,” and Mussogsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” (which he initially put together for a Halloween gig in 2014). The remainder of the tunes on the album were arranged by co-bandleader and trombonist Lucian Cobb.
Going back to that cool cover art idea, once we had the Battle Axe concept, vocalist Laura Windley approached graphic designer and electronic music artist Judson Cowan (aka Tettix) about fleshing out a concept for the cover art. Judson attended East Carolina University with half of the band, and went on to do graphic design work, like designing a blimp for Conan O’Brien and print ads for the Atlanta Braves, electronic music recordings as the artist Tettix, and soundtracks for video games like Rogue Legacy. Judson was perfect for the job because of his knowledge of the nerdy, the cool, the funny, and the music. We think that his instru-weapons are the perfect visual compliment to the pun of our album title.
When we met with our recording engineer, Jason Richmond, who recorded and mastered our first album, he made two suggestions that affected the quality of the sound on the recordings and distinguished it from our first album: 1) that we record at Mitch Easter‘s studio, The Fidelitorium, in Kernersville because he thought the studio would be complimentary to our sound as an acoustic band and 2) that we record to analog tape, which would give our recordings that warmer tone of older recordings. At one of his jobs, Jason happened upon a closet full of unused analog tape that a university was going to throw away and gave to him, so he was excited to work with it in the recording studio and we are very pleased with the results.
We recorded Battle Axe over a weekend in April at the Fidelitorium and Alexandrea Thomsen, who did our wonderful Kickstarter video and happens to be our guitar player Ben Lassiter’s wife, came out for the Sunday recording session to take photographs. At this point we had recorded most of the tracks for the album and we were doing re-takes on some songs we thought we could do better. The Fidelitorium was a great studio for us, tucked away behind the owner’s home and a “guest house,” which was essentially a little ranch house where the bands stay when they record there. The studio had an open lounge, dining, and kitchen area separate from the recording area and having that space to decompress and take breaks was great. The common area was also full of great artwork, oddities, knick-knacks, and interesting books. Here are some photos of the recording session for Battle Axe – enjoy!
The Mint Julep Jazz Band’s newest album, Battle Axe, is now available online for digital download and for purchase of physical copies of the album! We know for certain that you can find Battle Axe on CD Baby, iTunes, and we suspect that Amazon.com, Spotify, and eMusic will have it as well, maybe even some other sources we don’t suspect! You can purchase physical CDs at CD Baby.com and have them shipped to you or, as always, you can purchase CDs at any of our shows.
Some of you have asked which service gives the band the most money per song/copy and that answer is definitely CD Baby, who is our primary distributor.
Thanks again to all of our Kickstarter backers for making this dream a reality!
The official release date for digital copies of the Mint Julep Jazz Band’s new album, Battle Axe, is July 14! Digital copies will be available on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, just about anywhere digital copies are sold. Physical CD copies should be available for purchase online shortly thereafter. Our Kickstarter digital backers will receive theirs slightly before this date and our Kickstarter physical backers should start to receive their copies around this date. Huzzah!
Also, check out our fantastic album cover art, thanks to graphic designer and electronic music artist extraordinaire Judson Cowan (aka Tettix)!
Seriously, these people and organizations are the best, and are the reason the Mint Julep Jazz Band will record a second album! Thank you all so very much! 😀
Contributors (people who donated their time, products, and services as rewards):
Kim Clark of Time Machine Vintage
Jazz Dance Education Council of Richmond, VA
Jamie Sturdevant of Chatterblossom
Alexandrea Thomsen of Dtownperspective
Gayle Windley (our vocalist Laura Windley’s mom)
Backers (people who pre-ordered the album and opted for other delightful swag, in order of contribution; also, if we have somehow missed or misspelled your name, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make it right!):
Michael Van Andel
Tyler de Caussin
Jacob Z. Price
Paul J. McLaurin
Scott M. Manson
Mary Lou Mazzara
Kevin M. Thoresen
Kenneth F. Hanson
Paul Pj Ryan
Douglas B. Matthews
Gena Bell Vargas
Douglas Spaceage Schumann
Jeff Meyer and Sarah Lapan
Mary Ann Carothers
Edwin C. Butterworth
Bradley J. Rogers
Sarah St. Ores
Morgan L. Williams
Cat Keen Hock
Lucie Q. Ewen
R Lynn Rea
Triangle Swing Dance Society
Mary Kyle Manson
Stina Dallons Isaksen
David Rohan de Silva
N. Joanne Foil
As we head into our last few days of Kickstarting our second album, Battle Axe, we are so fortunate to be funded at our $12,000 goal and are working toward our stretch goal of vinyl copies of the album if we reach $16,000! If you haven’t pre-ordered the album yet or if you want a tee shirt or any of the other goodies that are only available through Kickstarter, you have until March 11 to become a backer. 🙂