Whether fulfilling the role of vocalist or showman, Michael Mwenso conveys both the sophistication and spontaneity of hardcore jazz alongside the music's folkloric roots with impeccable craft, creativity and communicative flair. Most frequently, Mwenso performs as leader-or ringleader-of Michael Mwenso & The Shakes, a revue comprised of vocalists Vuyo Sotashe, Mathis Picard on keys and piano, Kyle Poole on drums, Russell Hall on bass and Michela Marino Lerman performing live tap. Don't be shocked if a few surprise guests join in as well!
Born and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone, until age 10, Mwenso began singing, playing piano and trombone and, by 13, was touring with an old school swing band. His charismatic blend of raw talent and precocious erudition also drew the attention of James Brown, who offered Mwenso the signal honor of a guest spot singing and dancing at his UK engagements; by age 16, Mwenso left school and turned professional. In 2009, Wynton Marsalis witnessed the vibrant scene that had coalesced around Mwenso and invited him to move to New York, with a mandate to attract a younger, broader audience to Dizzy's and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Since, Mwenso has been featured on Jazz Night In America on NPR and performed at the Kennedy Center's 2015 New Year's Eve Gala.
Michael Mwenso, vocals
Vuyo Sotashe, vocals
Mathis Picard, piano /keyboard
Kyle Poole, drums
Russell Hall, bass
Michela Marino Lerman, tap dancing
Uncharted is a concert series featuring New York-based artists premiering new projects or meeting with new collaborators for the first time on stage that has consistently drawn the attention of tastemakers and curators from across the city over the past three years. The Uncharted season delivers eclectic excellence in a broad selection of musical genres representing New York City’s diverse artistic community, including Mexican folkloric, ragtime, classical, electronic, jazz, ancient Moroccan devotional and contemporary R&B.