I've never before seen or heard anything quite like Mike Davis and The New Wonders.
Mike and his group play authentic 1920s style jazz.
And I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing their performance live and close up at a session in Haddonfield this weekend sponsored by the area's Tri State Jazz Society.
Yeah, Mike is in a time warp -- but in a good way.
The minute you meet him you can tell that he's drifted back into another time and place -- and age of hot syncopated sounds; of speakeasies and wild nights; of uninhibited musical improvisation; of sweet melodies and seductive musical and lyrical innuendo.
It's all there when Mike lifts his cornet and sets the group on its tuneful journey. And then when he sings, you could swear his voice is coming through one of those old 78 rpm records or some big, bulky, early-day radio microphone.
But here's the best thing about Mike and the New Wonders -- the absolute joy they take in what they're doing. This 26-year-old wunderkind is really immersed in the whole process. He's doing something that he truly loves and it shows. What's more, his enthusiasm is contagious and it's evident in every member of the seven-piece group. And naturally, it spills out into the audience as well -- so much so that the large crowd gathered in Haddonfield this past Sunday couldn't stop applauding.
Davis' knowledge of the music of the era is vast and detailed. And, he also does the group arrangements, taking songs that haven't been heard in almost forever and arranging them anew but for the original instruments of the era.
The band’s name actually comes from the cornet model that Davis’ hero, 1920s jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke, played: the Conn New Wonder model. Davis has one of his own, from 1917.
Yes, 1917! And you'll not only hear this music the way it was meant to be heard but you'll also be treated to Davis' brief, clever, informative intros before each song. You'll learn about the origins of this type of jazz (the jazz of Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman and Eubie Blake and Bix Beiderbecke) in the best way possible -- by listening to it live and absorbing it's toe-taping, pulsating rhythms and beats.
You owe it to yourself to experience this group at one of their upcoming appearances.
But, for now, enjoy the video!