Mwenso and the Shakes are a unique troupe of global artists who present music that merges the highest form of entertainment and artistry while commanding a formidable timeline of jazz and blues expression through African and Afro-American music. Immigrating from Sierra Leone, London, South Africa, Greenwich Village, Madagascar, France, Jamaica, and Hawaii the Shakes all now call Harlem their home. Taking from the stylings of Fats Waller, Muddy Waters, James Brown, and many other American musical legends – Michael Mwenso leads an electrifying show the New York Times calls “intense, prowling, and ebullient.”
Michael Mwenso was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone but spent his teenage years hanging out at the legendary jazz club Ronnie Scott’s in London where he was exposed to musicians such as Benny Carter, Elvin Jones, Ray Brown, and Billy Higgins. In his youth, Mwenso started honing his talents as a trombonist, singer, and performer playing in jump bands, reggae, and Afrobeat horn sections and at hard-bop sessions. Mwenso’s talent as a performer caught the attention of many, which subsequently led him to meet James Brown who allotted space for him to sing and dance at his London shows. In 2012, friend and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis brought Mwenso to New York City to serve as a curator and programming associate at Jazz at Lincoln Center where he also booked nightly sets at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Over the next few years, Mwenso booked and performed with the likes of Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jon Batiste, Aaron Diehl, Sullivan Fortner, and Jamison Ross. Through these performances at Dizzy’s, Mwenso began to collaborate with a wide variety of Juilliard-trained musicians that soon became known as The Shakes. This unique group of global artists presents music that merges entertainment and artistry with a formidable timeline of jazz and blues through African and Afro-American music.
Management | Jono Gasparro, Electric Root
Press | Sana Colter
Discography | Allmusic.com