Besides the female singers, there were few women in the microcosm of traditional jazz. Things are changing now, and this New Orleans-based band is a prime example. Women prove to have swing to spare.
The band’s lineup recalls the first Dixieland orchestras: a front line – trumpet, trombone, and clarinet – and a rhythm section with bass, guitar, and washboard. No piano or drums. The six ladies of the Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band can accurately revive the traditional polyphony (and the vocal groups) of the Roaring Twenties, when there were stars such as trumpeter King Oliver, trombonist Kid Ory, clarinetist Johnny Dodds, and stand out with perfectly styled solos.
The band was the idea of Shaye Cohn (leader of Tuba Skinny, a well-known band at Umbria Jazz). It was supposed to be a single performance, but after the success and the requests by clubs and festivals, it became a stable group, even if Cohn left. They have recorded albums and toured in the United States and abroad, bringing the good old jazz (this music never loses its charm) with grace and verve.