Skip to page content

Mwenso and the Shakes

About this Artist

Mwenso was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone but spent his teenage years hanging out at the legendary jazz club Ronnie Scott’s in London where he was exposed to musicians such as Benny Carter, Elvin Jones, Ray Brown, and Billy Higgins. In his youth, Mwenso started honing his talents as a trombonist, singer, and performer playing in jump bands, reggae and Afrobeat horn sections, and at hard-bop sessions. Mwenso’s talent as a performer caught the attention of many, which subsequently led him to meet James Brown, who allotted space for him to sing and dance at his shows.

In 2012, friend and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis brought Mwenso to New York City to serve as curator and programming associate at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he also booked nightly sets at Dizzy’s Club. Over the next few years, Mwenso began to collaborate with a wide variety of Juilliard-trained musicians at Dizzy’s that soon became known collectively as The Shakes. This unique group of global artists presents music that merges entertainment and artistry with a formidable timeline of jazz and blues through African and Afro-American music.