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

Grover Washington Jr. performs on stage during the "One Night With Blue Note" concert in New York on Feb. 22, 1985. Anthony Barboza/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

In this radio episode, Jazz Night in America takes you to a tribute concert honoring the late musician, whose soulful sound was more than just "smooth."

How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/564442111/564555947" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jimmy Greene. Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

Jimmy Greene Remembers A 'Beautiful Life'

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The saxophonist's 2014 album was dedicated to the memory of his 6-year-old daughter, killed in the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Hear his quartet perform the genre-spanning music in concert.

Jimmy Greene's 'Beautiful Life'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/418925379/418929187" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Frank Stewart

Louis Hayes Celebrates His 80th Birthday In A Packed Jazz Club

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Jazz Night in America takes you to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, where the hard-bop drummer celebrated his debut as a band leader and talked about fond memories and favorite sessions.

Louis Hayes Celebrates His 80th Birthday In A Packed Jazz Club

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/561069637/561555776" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Robert Birnbach/2017 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

Cyrille Aimée and Daymé Arocena Perform At 2017 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The vocalists brought '30s gypsy swing and modern Afro-Cuban influences to their 2017 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest performances.

Cyrille Aimée And Daymé Arocena Make Jazz Their Own

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/553485977/553488458" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Dennis Manuel/Courtesy of the artist

Aww Yeah, Summertime — With The Robert Glasper Experiment

This special summer festival episode features a clever synthesis of hip-hop, R&B and soul, recorded live across two music festivals in New York City.

Aww Yeah, Summertime — With The Robert Glasper Experiment

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/542780066/542781768" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Joshua Redman on saxophone, Scott Colley on bass, Brian Blade on drums and Ron Miles on cornet perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center

Still Dreaming: Joshua Redman's Tribute To A Tribute

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The saxophonist opens up about the legacy of his father, Dewey Redman, and performs with Still Dreaming — his own nod to the quartet his dad once helped convene as an homage to Ornette Coleman.

Back To Top