The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival is produced by the Flynn in association with Burlington City Arts, and presented by New England Federal Credit Union. The 39th annual festival took place June 3-12 and featured events all over Downtown Burlington and beyond. We are so grateful to our 2022 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival curators Michael Mwenso, leader of the captivating band Mwenso & The Shakes and co-founder of Electric Root, and his creative partner Jono Gasparro.
The Flynn is thrilled to welcome Michael Mwenso, leader of the captivating band Mwenso & The Shakes and co-founder of Electric Root, as the curator for the 2022 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. This year marks the 39th anniversary of the festival, which is one of the biggest and most beloved annual events in Vermont.
Michael is a singular performing artist with a profound understanding of, and appreciation for, Black roots music and history. His band Mwenso & The Shakes performed at Burlington Discover Jazz Festival in 2016 and 2017. Michael is a sought-after cultural curator as well as a master at distributing the spiritual nutrition inherent in Black music with Electric Root, the mission driven company he co-leads with Jono Gasparro.
As curator of Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, Michael will take the lead in shaping the 10-day festival from start to finish, making it a memorable and illuminating experience for all. He will ensure that the festival is a wide-ranging celebration of jazz music in all its forms, with exciting performances from local and international artists, while maintaining a focus on arts education and discourse.
Michael Mwenso was born in Sierra Leone and began singing and playing trombone after he moved to London as a young child. At 16 years old, Michael began leading his own bands and performing with local jazz groups in various parts of the world. Michael’s journey as a thoughtful and strategic curator began with celebrated work at Ronnie Scott’s, a world-renowned jazz and blues club in London. In 2010, Wynton Marsalis invited him to join the programming team at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he built the after-hours program at Dizzy’s Club. During this time, he formed Mwenso & the Shakes, a unique troupe of global artists who present music that merges jazz and blues expressions through African and African-American music.
Influenced by the stylings of Bessie Smith; Earth, Wind & Fire; James Brown; and many other Black American musical legends, Michael Mwenso leads an electrifying show that the New York Times calls “intense, prowling, and ebullient.” Michael also recently helped organize Black Roots Summer at the Fisher Center at Bard College, has been a contributor for NPR World Café, and hosted and executive produced the WNET TV Special Michael Mwenso Honors George Floyd.