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

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.

1981865_592636587503721_1613895537222570559_nIt’s been a minute since the Mint Julep Quintet had some of the spotlight – we’re grateful that people have opted to book the full size band so consistently, but it will be nice to revisit the quintet book for its swing era and trad jazz combo repertoire.  Join us on June 7, 2019 at the Cary Arts Center for the 6th Annual En Plein Air Art Auction and Gala, which features the works of 27 local artists painted outdoors with an auction and live music provided by yours truly from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  The show is free to everyone, we hope you’ll support local artists with your feet and be inspired.

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!

 

Fresh off Camp Hollywood, we’re ready for a couple of live shows on our home turf!  Catch us on these two dates:

UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 12 AND 15 ARE CANCELLED DUE TO HURRICANE FLORENCE, CARY’S PARK AFTER DARK SHOW IS RESCHEDULED FOR OCTOBER 3

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From a past performance for TSDS at the Carrboro Century Center, courtesy of Tiffany Brantner.

October 3, 2018 (rescheduled from the cancelled September 12, 2018) at The Town of Cary’s Park After Dark, Cary, NC – our first performance for the Town of Cary, we’ll send out the summer outdoor concert season in style.  We’ll be performing a free concert at Cary’s Downtown Park from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., bring a picnic dinner or pick up food from one of the local vendors at the event. For more information about food, parking, and weather updates, visit https://www.townofcary.org/recreation-enjoyment/events/special-events/park-after-dark.

September 15, 2018 at Triangle Swing Dance Society dance, Carrboro, NC – always happy to be playing on for dancers on the best dance floor in the Triangle, at the Carrboro Century Center.  Free beginner swing dance lesson at 7:00 p.m., we play from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.  For more information, visit the TSDS website at www.triangleswingdance.org.

Back in October we performed at the Duck Jazz Festival, a fantastic two day jazz festival on the outer banks of North Carolina, and they’ve put together a highlight reel from the festival, including the Mint Julep Jazz Band’s performance at the swing dance lesson taught by Laura Windley and Keenan McKenzie – check it out and make plans to attend this wonderful festival by the sea.