This past weekend the Mint Julep Jazz Band premiered three new music videos as part of the California Balboa Classic’s virtual event, CalBal Live! The event reached out to 5 bands/bandleaders to create brand new recordings for the event, compiled remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders, Gordon Au’s Grand Street Stompers, the Jen Hodge All-Stars, Keenan McKenzie and the Riffers, and the Mint Julep Jazz Band. We hope you enjoy these new-to-us tunes, here’s the scoop on each song, the sponsors, and the musicians for each recording:

COWBELL SERENADE

If you say CalBal three times fast it might come out sounding like cowbell at the end – hence this tune is a pun on the event’s nickname. We’d been looking for pitched cowbells for years, online an at music stores, and it took a pandemic Zoom cocktail hangout for the topic of almglocken to come out. Thanks to Jonathan Stout for the suggestion, we think they worked out great! Here’s our rendition of Johnny Blowers’ Cowbell Serenade, sponsored by Gary Chyi.

Lucian Cobb – trombone, Matt Fattal – trumpet, Keenan McKenzie – tenor saxophone, Aaron Hill – alto saxophone, Chip Newton – guitar, Jason Foureman – bass, Kobie Watkins – drums, Laura Windley – glockenspiel

I’M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER

This is an original arrangement of I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, written by Lucian Cobb, with vocals inspired by the Boswell Sisters. Thanks so much to Kevin Wang, Lian Tarhay, Ursula Hicks, Kevin Nguyen, Matt Mitchell, and Jennifer Reed, all swing dancers in Austin and Dallas, Texas, who joined forces to sponsor this song for CalBal Live.

Laura Windley – vocals, Lucian Cobb – trombone, Paul Rogers – trumpet, Keenan McKenzie – tenor saxophone, Aaron Hill – alto saxophone, Ben Lassiter – guitar, Peter Kimosh – bass, Aaron Tucker – drums

RAGGIN’ THE SCALE

When we started talking to the CalBal Live organizers it became clear that they were excited about everything the bandleaders proposed and were up for funding big band charts. While the Mint Julep Jazz Band isn’t a big band, Lucian really wanted to do a big band song because it would be fun to put together. He had already transcribed Raggin’ the Scale (from an Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra live recording from the Savoy Ballroom) for Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders Orchestra and Michael gave his blessing for us to record Lucian’s transcription, so here we are! Thanks so much to Pasadena Balboa and Jam for sponsoring Raggin’ the Scale, this song is an absolute blast.

Trumpet – Renee McGee, Jay Meachum, and Jim Ketch; Trombone – Lucian Cobb and Evan Ringel; Alto Saxophone – Brian Miller and Aaron Hill; Tenor Saxophone – Keenan McKenzie and Annalise Stalls; Drums – Dan Faust; Bass – William Ledbetter; Guitar – Ben Lassiter; Piano – Clark Stern; Glockenspiel – Laura Windley

UPDATE: In light of the pandemic, the Mint Julep Jazz Band concert on March 22, 2020 at Galloway Ridge for Fearrington Cares has been canceled. We are hoping to reschedule this concert for the fall.  Stay healthy and safe, everyone!

We’ll be performing a concert on March 22, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Chapin Auditorium at Galloway Ridge as a fundraiser for Fearrington Cares, which provides “information and services to all residents of the Fearrington Community that will facilitate the health, safety and independent living activities of those residents on a non-profit basis.”  Tickets are $40 and you can purchase advance tickets and get more information by visiting the Fearrington Cares website or by visiting the Fearrington Cares Center located at 26 Swim and Croquet, Pittsboro, NC on any weekday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. prior to March 18, 2020.  See you soon!

IMG_0348

While the Mint Julep Jazz Band may not have any public shows in December, there are many Mint Juleps involved in the album release show for A Bull City Holiday on December 3 at Motorco – most notably, our reed man, arranger, and songwriter Keenan McKenzie, who wrote and arranged 12 original holiday tunes and invited 30 Triangle musicians to appear on this album.  We hope you will join us, the show will feature almost all of the musicians on the album, performing Keenan’s originals and some holiday classics in groupings ranging from trad jazz combo to big band.  Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8:00 p.m.  You can get advance tickets on the Motorco website for $12 (plus a parking option), or pay $15 at the door.

The album is officially available for download on November 25 on Bandcamp, but you can preview 2 tracks already – or, if you happen to see Keenan at ILHC, around town, at the December 3 show, or otherwise, pick up a copy from the artist directly.  Albums will be available at Dolly’s Vintage in downtown Durham very soon.

He’s already received a delightful review, courtesy of Joe Bebco of The Syncopated Times, if you’d like to read some love for the album.

World-renowned Balboa dancer Olga Marina is launching a new website this month called isolobalboa.com, which will feature more than 100 videos, demos, exercises for both for leaders and followers in the pure Balboa and Bal-Swing dance styles.  We’re delighted that Olga featured the Mint Julep Jazz Band’s recording of “You Can’t Live in Harlem” in her promotional video for the website, which showcases her incredible footwork and joyous energy!  Follow her Facebook page for more updates on videos and the website.

If you’ve purchased either of our albums – Durham on Saturday Night or Battle Axe – consider leaving us a review! We’d love to hear your thoughts on our music and I know people who may be considering picking up a copy would love to hear your thoughts, too.

Here are some helpful links:

Durham on Saturday Night –
iTunes
Bandcamp
Amazon

Battle Axe –
iTunes
Bandcamp
Amazon

Or leave one wherever else you may have purchased – thanks so much!  We love you madly!

 

23659509_10103419847799641_1131617545580786145_nIf you love Keenan McKenzie’s original tunes and arrangements on the Mint Julep Jazz Band albums, you can now get even more of this great music in your life – Keenan is releasing a brand new album of original swing music written by the maestro himself called Forged in Rhythm, available now for preview and pre-order on Bandcamp and full release coming December 5!

Here’s Keenan’s post about the album release:

“If you’d asked me a few years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined my first album would be 15 radio-length songs, all in 4/4 time. I now owe so much to the dance community that it’s hard to imagine it going any other way. Swing music has provided some unforgettable experiences and introduced me to a world of wonderful people, including Allison Meeks (you make my heart go thump thump thump!)

I’m thrilled to announce the upcoming release of FORGED IN RHYTHM. This album of original tunes is a celebration of my favorite ‘30s/‘40s musicians and a love letter to the swing dance scene. I got to work with some phenomenal players and great friends, and we had a blast making this record. I can’t wait for you to hear it!

Keenan McKenzie……………reeds
Gordon Au…………………..trumpet
Lucian Cobb……………..trombone
Jonathan Stout……………….guitar
Chris Dawson………………….piano
Seth Ford-Young………………bass
Josh Collazo………………….drums
Laura Windley………………..vocals
Miles Senzaki……………..engineer

Artwork and design by Ryan Calloway Art

Available December 5th on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and more!”

DSC_0530
Photograph by Brad Nathanson Photography

11402932_681723205261725_5157300848427798148_n
Photograph from ABW 2015, courtesy of @bobbykate on Instagram

On June 10, 2017 we’ll perform for our fourth year in a row at All Balboa Weekend!  It is always an honor to be invited to perform at this long-running Balboa event that is home to what is essentially the world championships of Balboa.  Our friends Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders are performing on Friday night and we’ll be the Saturday night band.  We’ve also got a special surprise for you with guest vocalist Nick Williams, so don’t miss a moment of the live music at ABW!