The new kids on the block, Shake ’Em Up Jazz Band have actually been around for quite some time and it shows in their debut album, Le Donne Mangiano Zucchero (translated to “women eat sugar”). This all-female Frenchmen trad supergroup includes members of several established bands. Listeners to the album will recognize the commanding voice of Marla Dixon 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.
“Washboard Wiggles” opens the album and sets the pace with a tight, driving rhythm that feels beautifully relaxed at the same time. Molly Reeves’ vocals on “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor” lend the song a conversational intimacy. Next is the calypso classic “Shame & Scandal in the Family,” followed by a lilting interpretation of “My Silent Love.” “Les Oignons,” “Root, Hog, or Die” and “Shake ’Em Up” will be the dancer favorites, featuring energetic solos from the front line and rhythmic breaks that are great for swinging out. Chloe’s vocals on “Empty Bed Blues” are surprisingly powerful and saucy. Haruka makes memorable purring glissandos on the Hot 5’s classic “Savoy Blues.” The album closes with a wistful Western swing version of Tex Ritter’s “There’s a New Moon Over My Shoulder.” A special shout out goes to Molly Reeves for recording and mixing the album at Bunny Friend Studio. Let’s hope that this will be the first of many for these ladies.