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April 9: Michael Mwenso and the Shakes Bring Jazz, Funk, Soul Fusion to Weis Center

Michael Mwenso and the Shakes will perform a unique blend of jazz, funk and soul on Tuesday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. The performance is free and tickets are not required.

A pre-performance talk with the artists will take place on the same day as the performance at 1 p.m. in the Weis Center Atrium.

Whether fulfilling the role of vocalist, emcee, showman or impresario, Michael Mwenso conveys both the sophistication and spontaneity of hard-core jazz and the music’s folkloric roots with impeccable craft, creativity and communicative flair.

Mwenso and the Shakes are a unique troupe of global artists who present music that merges the highest form of entertainment and artistry, while commanding a formidable timeline of jazz and blues expression through African and Afro-American music. Hailing from Sierra Leone, London, South Africa, Greenwich Village in New York City, Madagascar, France, Jamaica and Hawaii, the members of The Shakes now call Harlem, N.Y. their home.

The performance will feature hip-hop dancers from Karen Gronsky School of Dance, located in Danville.

Michael Mwenso and the Shakes is a revue comprising between three to five vocalists — including Mwenso, Brianna Thomas, Charenee Wade and Vuyo Sotashe — and a rotating ensemble that includes rising stars like drummers Joe Saylor and Jamison Ross, pianist Chris Pattishall, trumpeters Alphonso Horne and Bruce Harris, and tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott.

All developed their ideas and accrued public visibility at late night shows booked and overseen by Mwenso since 2012 at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at JALC’s complex in New York’s Time-Warner Center.

Mwenso, 31, developed his unique skill sets through the course of several eventful life journeys. In 2009, Wynton Marsalis — who met and befriended Mwenso in 1997 — played a week at Ronnie Scott’s. After witnessing the vibrant scene that Mwenso had coalesced, he invited him to move to New York with a mandate to attract a younger, broader audience to Dizzy’s and JALC, while retaining values consistent with Marsalis’ “all jazz is modern” mantra. Mwenso’s success in accomplishing this mission is evident: the Shakes were featured on the November 17, 2015 edition of Christian McBride’s Jazz Night In America on NPR, and performed at the Kennedy Center’s 2015 New Year’s Eve Gala.

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

For more information about this free jazz fusion event, contact Lisa Leighton, marketing and outreach director, at 570-577-3727 or

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