FRIDAY, MAY 4—ECONOMY HALL TENT, 1:50 P.M.
Molly, Marla, Julie, Haruka, Chloe, and Dizzy had all made their own names in jazz long before they came together to form one of the most talked about new bands this year: Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band. This all-female Frenchmen trad supergroup includes members of several established bands. Fans of the scene will recognize Marla Dixon’s powerful trumpet and vocals from Shotgun Jazz Band, the driving guitar of Molly Reeves from the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, the steady bass of Julie Schexnayder from the Loose Marbles as well as clarinet darling Chloe Feoranzo of Postmodern Jukebox, gutbucket trombonist Haruka Kikuchi, and washboard wiz Defne “Dizzy” Incirlioglu.
The band played together for the first time inadvertently in summer 2016. “It was by accident really,” says clarinetist Chloe Feoranzo. “It was supposed to be a one-off gig that Shaye Cohn [of Tuba Skinny] called us for. There is this Girls Rock Camp over the summer that inspires girls of all ages to incorporate music into their lives. Being all women was never meant to be on purpose except for showing those young women that you can play any instrument no matter what gender you are.
”It didn’t take long after that for the band to get attention. “I believe we got a couple gigs based on that performance,” says Julie Schexnayder, “so we just kept rolling from that point on, like ‘Hey, this is fun! We like each other! We got gigs! Let’s do this!’” Performances at the Dragon’s Den, Three Muses, the Spotted Cat and Preservation Hall were soon to follow. Last summer they were invited to the Umbria Jazz Festival and this year saw them at the Abita Springs Busker Festival and the Nevermore Jazz Ball in St Louis.
Naturally, the girls have been conscious of the implications and hazards of having an all-female lineup. “We had to make a decision in the beginning if we wanted to move forward with the group because we knew that we would be defined as a ‘girl band’ and would receive special and/or unwanted attention because of that. Ultimately we decided to continue because the band sounds great, we are all friends, and we all share a passion for early jazz. These are the fundamental ingredients for a good band in my opinion,” says Molly Reeves.
Shake ‘Em Up has just released their second album, A Woman’s Place, which is now available online through their website and at the Louisiana Music Factory.