Mwenso & the Shakes: a fusion of African, Afro-American, jazz, and blues

On Saturday, March 2, Mwenso & the Shakes will bring its unique fusion of African, Afro-American, jazz, and blues music to Flushing Town Hall. The evening starts with a dance and groove workshop at 7 PM, and continues with a concert at 8 PM.

Mwenso & the Shakes is a troupe of global artists who present music that merges the highest form of entertainment and artistry with a formidable repertoire of jazz, blues, African, and Afro-American music. The international group draws inspiration from the stylings of Fats Waller, Muddy Waters, James Brown and many other American musical legends. Michael Mwenso leads electrifying performances that The New York Times calls “intense, prowling, and ebullient.”

“Mwenso and the Shakes is a perfect fit for our rich programming with their combination of world music and jazz, and we are excited to have them here at Flushing Town Hall,” says Executive and Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek. “The group will kick off our own ‘#MarchMadness,’ which will include 18 performances in 31 days—what a way to celebrate our 40th anniversary!”

Jazz musician Michael Mwenso has quite a résumé: he was born in Sierra Leone and moved to London, where he became interested in jazz and started performing at the age of 11. He is a curator for the Late Night Sessions at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center, where has brought many young and talented jazz artists together to form the Shakes.

The band includes members from across the globe—Sierra Leone, London, South Africa, New York City, Madagascar, France, Jamaica, and Hawaii—but the Shakes now call Harlem home. Mwenso tells JazzTimes that the group has “figured out how to play funk grooves and African music in a way that still holds up the deepest elements of jazz and swing…We’re trying to fulfill the spirit of Louis Armstrong and those people, we want to protect what they held up, and guard it and bow and give reverence to them—but also to be free within ourselves.”

In advance of the concert, Michela Marino Lerman, tap dancer and choreographer, will lead a workshop on the various dances associated with the music to be performed by Mwenso & the Shakes before the group brings original music with a focus on self-empowerment to the stage.

Listen to Mwenso & the Shakes new single “Resolute” here.

Tickets are $16/$10 members/free for teens and can be purchased at or by calling (718) 463-7700 x222. The workshop is free with no RSVP required.

Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train, and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train – at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing, Queens. Access for wheelchair users and individuals with limited mobility is available.

Once again, Flushing Town Hall is opening its doors to teenagers – for free. Under the “Teen Access Program,” all 13- to 19-year-old teens (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love for arts and culture.

This engagement of Mwenso & the Shakes is made possible through the Jazz Touring Network program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.


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