You’ve Got To Hear This: The Mint Julep Jazz Band
[Welcome to a new series here at Swungover called "You've Got To Hear This." Each post will feature a classic song, or modern group, (and perhaps a guest writer or twelve), and focus on swing music that we think you might not have heard, but you have to listen to at least once before you die. We're honored to have the first post be about The Mint Julep Jazz Band from North Carolina. They are new to the scene and played their first dance camp this November.]
Before The Eastern Balboa Championships this year, we were excited to learn that Laura Windley was going to be singing with her and her husband Lucian Cobb’s new band at the event. Then we actually heard them. They blew us away. A recently-formed group, they sounded like they had been playing together for years. While I was dancing most of the night, I did record a few random songs to use for a little video. It’s here:
(Note: Filmed on camera not designed for good audio. They sound great on this point-and-shoot; imagine them live. )
5 Reasons Why The Mint Julep Jazz Band is an Incredible Band For Dancers
First and foremost, they are great jazz/swing musicians. Everything was well practiced and clean, and the band was obviously paying as much attention to each other as to the sheet music.
The classic standards they played were varied, and had fantastic new arrangements by Cobb. For instance, their Lindy Hoppers’ Delight played on a musical theme that was already in the song and took it to a whole new level. It was nasty. Several people on the dance floor lost it in excitement, myself included.
They played great 1920-40s songs (mostly 30/40s) I’ve never heard a live band play before, and some of which I’ve never heard, period. Cobb is a lover of Duke Ellington and brought out some hidden Ellington gems that really swung. (Don’t worry, we begged him to do a late-period Rockin’ ‘N Rhythm arrangement for the band, so I covered that base for you guys. Though I’m sure he won’t mind a few emails to reinforce it: mintjulepjazzband at gmail.)
They obviously kept an eye on the dance floor and how the dancers were handling the tempos and flow of tempos. This is probably because lead singer and co-leader Laura Windley is a passionate and well-respected swing DJ. She knows how incredibly useful that is to the band, and it showed.
Vocalist Laura Windley sings with a genuinely dynamite jazz singer feel without affectation. Sure, she’s obviously been influenced by great jazz singers like Billie Holiday — but on stage, she just tries to be Laura Windley. The result is a full, clear, (on-key), really enjoyable style that seems naturally classic. I can’t help but feel this is the beginning of a powerful and unique voice in the modern swing music scene.
So there you have it.
The band plays Lindy Hop events, Balboa events, and more. They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign and already reached their goal to fund their first CD. But, I’m sure they would still appreciate support, either by contributing (you can get a CD!) or by mentioning them to the people in your scene who hire bands and might be looking for an incredible swing band that’s new to the town. Find out more at www.mintjulepjazzband.com.
So, dear readers, has anyone gotten to see them? What was your experience like?