Harlem is their home now, but they come from all over the world: Sierra Leone, London, South Africa, Greenwich Village, Madagascar, France, Jamaica, and Hawaii. They are Mwenso and the Shakes. Michael Mwenso is their charismatic leader, a vocalist from Sierra Leone who moved to London. After a late-night jam session at Ronnie Scott’s, Wynton Marsalis hired him as a musician.
Mwenso and the Shakes form a group (more than a band) of global artists whose music aims at merging the highest form of entertainment and artistry.
Their genre connects jazz and blues, expressed through African and Afro-American music. They are inspired by Fats Waller, Muddy Waters, James Brown and other American music legends. The New York Times calls their show “intense, prowling, and ebullient”. Their performance encourages people to dance and be part of it. This mix of creative energy, timbre and rhythm works best live. No wonder their debut album, “Emergence”, is a live recording. The band musically preserves the Afro-American music tradition – Louis Armstrong and other icons – but feels free to push the limits.