New Orleans Swamp Donkeys
Possibly one of the most relevant and genuine New Orleans bands today, the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys specialize in "Traditional Jass," also known as Hot Jazz and Early Jazz. The band's focus on early greats like Louis Armstrong and Hoagy Carmichael has created a raving, global following, but it was their unique Jass-adaptation of the theme song from Game of Thrones that resulted in a viral video. Truly, this band spans more than a century, and while they are very often called upon for their utterly authentic approach to the traditional, they're called upon equally as often for their brass band and progressive adaptations. Together with bandleader James Williams, the band has performed multiple times at New Orleans Jazz Fest, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, and many other great festivals. They've also opened for Sting, Simple Minds, Johnny Hallyday, Joe Louis Walker, Rebirth Brass Band, and many others.
Bandleader James Williams is a multi-talented artist that sounds like Louis Armstrong on the trumpet and vocals, but as the BBC's Stephen Duffy put it, "he is resolutely his own man." Mr. Williams is a virtuoso on the trumpet and tuba, and plays a pretty mean trombone as well. His talents have earned him standing ovations from huge crowds all over the world, from the Apollo Theatre in Harlem to big stadiums in Africa, Australia, and Asia; as well as some of the world's most prestigious jazz clubs, including The Blue Note, Ronnie Scott's, and Duc des Lombards. He usually plays in his primary band, The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, and he also performs in a newer formation, "James Williams," that spans traditional jazz, modern jazz, soul, R&B, and hip hop, and includes piano, upright bass, and a classier atmosphere than the insanely fun and quite wild New Orleans Swamp Donkeys. Mr Williams debuted "James Williams" at French Quarter Festival in New Orleans this year to an understandably adoring audience (that couldn't stop dancing!)
Now in 2018, the ascent of the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys (and star James Williams) continue to accelerate. Over the past year, Mr Williams was the Featured Summer Artist at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, leading a special July 4 performance of his band on Louis Armstrong's birthday in Queens. NOSD also performed to adoring audiences at the Blue Note NYC that night, before flying to Switzerland to perform at the Independence Day Party at the US Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, as well as at the Palais des Nations (General Assembly Hall) at the United Nations itself. The band sold out shows at Duc Des Lombards in Paris, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, The Sugar Club in Dublin, and more. Mr Williams even led a brand new band, the New Orleans Classic Big Band, which includes all of the members of the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, in a centennial celebration and overview of Jazz at the historic Festival Theatre in Scotland. Mr Williams even took his work to mainstream festivals, including the London Bridge City, Secret Garden Party, and Kendal Calling, all in the United Kingdom.
Ryan Hanseler & Friends
Born in Boston MA, Ryan Hanseler learned to play the piano at age six. Aided by the support of his father and grandfather, Ryan was consistently exposed to the music of Miles Davis, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff,Gene Harris, Oscar Peterson, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner to name a few.
By the age of twelve, Ryan began to study Jazz with New England Conservatory's Charlie Banacos. Eager to learn the language of the music, Ryan frequently attended jam sessions and began performing professionally. It wasn't unusual for him to be the youngest by nearly twice his age.
By age eighteen, Ryan went on to earn a degree in Jazz Theory from the Crane School of Music in New York, and a Masters degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging from North Carolina Central University where he was introduced to pianist Joey Calderazzo, and saxaphonist Branford Marsalis. Each acting as a mentor, and Mr. Marsalis occasionally as a band leader, the two extremely influential musicians helped provide Ryan with the guidance needed to become a dominant jazz pianist.
Performing nationally and internationally, Ryan Hanseler has shared the stage with numerous artist including Rene Marie, Branford Marsalis, Tim Green, Nnenna Freelon, and Terrence Blanchard. Functioning predominantly as a sideman and solo pianist, Ryan works in The John Brown Quartet & Big Band, as well as a stand in pianist for the Branford Marsalis Quartet. When representing himself, it comes frequently in the form of a duo, featuring trumpeter Lynn Grissett. Together, the duo performs traditional, ragtime and stride. Outside of these groups, Ryan is highly active cultivating the local jazz scene of North Carolina, performing as a highly demanded pianist in numerous venues. Currently Ryan serves as a faculty member at East Carolina University in their jazz studies program.