A Jazz 'Family,' Formed Late At Night Brought together by a vocalist and natural ringleader named Michael Mwenso, a group of young musicians has developed its own ways to put on a show. Watch The Shakes perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Jazz Night In America

A Jazz 'Family,' Formed Late At NightWBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

A Jazz 'Family,' Formed Late At Night

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/456415165/456420040" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Michael Mwenso is a curator for the Late Night Sessions at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. He's also an irrepressible vocalist and natural ringleader who draws inspiration from the communal aspects of making jazz.

"I was interested in the human pathos of the music, as well as the music," he says. "But the human thing was really interesting to me. Then to also see the effect of when jazz is really being played, like manifested — you'd see a musician playing and you see people going crazy and hollering. That was very... how do you create that?"

Mwenso's enthusiasm has drawn many up-and-coming artists to Jazz at Lincoln Center after hours — and after-after-hours, in off-campus listening parties. The shared experience of being young and eager (and talented) musicians in the big city has given rise to a loose collective known as The Shakes. As it turns out, all the time spent together offstage translates directly to how Mwenso and his "family" perform in the spotlight.

Here, Jazz Night In America hangs out with Michael Mwenso and The Shakes as they prepare for and seize an opportunity to present their own ideas of how to run a show. Watch highlights from the family's performance at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola — and, on the radio program, a special breakout segment featuring rising trumpeter Riley Mulherkar.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz Night In America

Courtesy of the artist

No Man's Band: All-Female Jazz Orchestras Then and Now

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The DIVA Jazz Orchestra celebrates 25 years, and one of the last surviving members of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm reflects on the legacies of all-female big bands.

No Man's Band: All-Female Jazz Orchestras Then and Now

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/702983940/703416638" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Carolina Sanchez/Red Bull Content Pool

Makaya McCraven: The Brain Behind The Mind-Bending Beats

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Drummer/producer Makaya McCraven creates beat-driven jazz with post-production wizardry.

Makaya McCraven: The Brain Behind The Mind-Bending Beats

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/698697855/698910268" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Henry Adebonojo

Oscar-Nominated Terence Blanchard On 30 Years Of Jazz And Film Scoring For Spike Lee

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Trumpeter Terence Blanchard has career spanning three decades in both jazz and film scoring. We dive into his work with Spike Lee, his E-Collective band and a new commission.

Oscar-Nominated Terence Blanchard On 30 Years Of Jazz And Film Scoring For Spike Lee

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/694662471/694753524" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Bassist Christian McBride (left) and Blues artist Joey DeFrancesco (right). Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

A Reunion Of Brotherly Love: Joey DeFrancesco Traces His Roots

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Christian McBride interviews one of his oldest friends, organist Joey DeFrancesco, in their hometown of Philadelphia.

A Reunion Of Brotherly Love: Joey DeFrancesco Traces His Roots

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/687886485/688249013" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Grammy-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove passed away at age 49. Courtesy of The Roy Hargrove Estate hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of The Roy Hargrove Estate

'Jazz Night In America' Remembers Artists We Lost In 2018

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Friends of the show offer memories and music of pianist Cecil Taylor, Village Vanguard owner Lorraine Gordon, South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela and trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

'Jazz Night In America' Remembers Artists We Lost In 2018

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/678136954/678160463" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra perform new arrangements of holiday classics in New York City. Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center

The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra Performs Big Band Holiday Classics

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

New arrangements, old Yuletide classics. Watch the annual Jazz at Lincoln Center Big Band Holidays concert live on Wed., December 19th at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, with Catherine Russell as a guest vocalist, perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Sarah Escarraz/Jazz at Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Sarah Escarraz/Jazz at Lincoln Center

Big Band Holiday Cheer With The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra

Listen to your favorite holiday classics from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with guest vocalist Catherine Russell, recorded live in New York City at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Big Band Holiday Cheer With The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/675600213/676765960" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top