Ginger and The Schnappes is an entertaining niche band focusing on jazzy pop and great jazz standards. Their newly released debut album, “Social Music,” delivers ten sophisticated original tracks spanning an array of genres, from energizing swing to lush Latin, elegant jazz, plus a taste of country and New Orleans jazz.
Reminiscent of the Great American Songbook, the new album creates a charming atmosphere of richly engaging tunes. Based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the six-piece band comprises world-class jazz musicians who have toured and recorded nationwide and abroad.
The tunes on “Social Music” are artfully composed by guitarist and musical director Joe Mixon, a professor of music theory and performance at several local universities and colleges. Each band member then brought his years of experience and personal flair to the pieces by creating inspiring solos and clever riffs on saxophone and flute (Dan Twaddell), keyboard (Pat Kerssen), bass (Brian Bortz), drums (Vernon Mobley), and guitar (Joe Mixon). Ginger Brew, the band’s colorful vocalist, wrote the lyrics.
“The idea of social music is for people to enjoy it together, whether that means sitting next to a stranger at a live performance or sharing a track with a friend miles away,” explains Brew, a bon vivant noted for her multiple vocal styles, expansive vocal range, signature vintage attire, and screen star coifs.
The album opens with “Chrome Dome,” an upbeat, cheery, lindy hop track dedicated to Ginger’s fascinating, supportive, and stylishly bald spouse. On this number, fans of ballroom and swing dance can’t help but hit the floor. The debut continues to wrap cool jazz chords around tunes like “Prosecco,” a clever and catchy track about the appreciation of the bubbly Italian wine.
The tune “309” is a Northeast PA-Centric track that pays homage to the quintessential Pennsylvania roadway. “It’s fun and easy and one of our most requested songs,” adds Brew. The song “A-Strollin On By” is musically posh with eloquent lyrics reminiscent of a rat pack ballad. The lyrics to “Magic Thread,” written in the bleakest days of COVID, capture the drama and passion in the music.
The band’s soft spot for sappy country ballads comes to life in “Drunk and Dreamy.” “Pardon Me” is a playful piece with a cool Latin rhythm. “On Veut Faire La Fête” authentically digs the New Orleans second-line feel, while “Lament” would make a great theme song for a film noir. Each track recorded on “Social Music” packs a memorable punch.
The original album finishes with “Double Stop,” a song Ginger wrote about her worst nightmare — seeing another woman dressed in the very same attire she is wearing.
Ginger and the Schnappes swing it like Goodman, play it hot like Armstrong and keep it cool like Ellington, all while having fun with it like Calloway. The band performs regularly at public and private events across the Northeast. Ginger and the Schnappes will perform at the nationally known music festival, Musikfest, at the Musikfest Cafe, August 14, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Bethlehem PA.
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ABOUT THE MUSICIANS
A stylish chanteuse with an amazing vocal range and sophisticated taste in vocal interpretation and personal style, Ginger has trained professionally since her teens. She has sung in multiple settings including The Sweet Adelines a capella group, church choirs, and even a short stint doing singing telegrams as Mae West (but that’s a story for another day). In real life, Ginger is a retired family physician. While in medical training, Ginger was a member of the Little Lyric Opera Theater Company of Philadelphia. Her Irish roots led her to compete in Irish singing contests up and down the east coast, and she took third place in the prestigious Mid-Atlantic Fleagh Cheoil in 2010. Ginger is also the lyricist for Mixon Brew Music, LLC, collaborating with Joe Mixon. Together they composed the songs of the first Ginger and The Schnappes album. The influence of Ginger’s dad and his love of big band jazz combined with Ginger’s own wry sense of humor and love of vintage clothes have created a stunning and engaging singer.
Joe is the guitarist and musical director for Ginger and The Schnappes. He has a master’s degree in Music from Combs College of Music in Philadelphia and provides the musical backbone to the band as well as elaborate solos for most of the tunes. An expert multi-instrumentalist, Joe has taught music theory and musical performance at several colleges in the Lehigh Valley including Northampton Community College, Lebanon Valley College and Moravian College. Joe is the vocalist and steel drum player for the Big Wahu Caribbean band and can be heard playing steel drums on the worldwide collaboration album by Infinity Group. Joe is also the guitarist for The Blues Professors and, together with Ginger, composes licensable songs for Mixon Brew Music, LLC. Joe is responsible for the beautiful tunes that range from swing to blues to country. Joe also has a private music practice coaching vocal and instrumental performance.
Throughout a music career spanning over four decades, Brian Jon Bortz – Bassist, has continually found great joy in playing music at a very high level and always with great musicians. Highly regarded as one of the premier bassists in the region, Brian has performed across the US, to Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe. He has backed major show-business stars, played for the President and Vice President of the U.S., annually plays for the Freddy Awards, and is deeply involved in his church music ministry. He is a founder of The Last Thursday Band, a member of Fusion Jazz Trio and Ginger & The Schnappes, and is a first-call sub with several great bands. Brian also has extensive recording credits. He calls the recording studio his “happy place” and has worn the producer hat for several projects as well. Brian’s influences are wide-ranging and include everything from Big Band to R&B and everything in between. Brian’s breadth of musical expertise combined with exceptional skill and a positive attitude are the attributes that have sustained his career and keep him in high demand.
Vernon has been playing for nearly three decades. During that time, he has worked tirelessly to craft an unmistakable drumming style, often playing multiple rhythmic patterns and instruments simultaneously, giving the illusion of more than one percussionist playing. Vern’s musical roots are Gospel where he cultivated his drumming, singing, and skills on the organ. Since childhood, Vern has been a respected member of the greater Philadelphia Gospel community playing in venues as varied as local churches to the Philadelphia Academy of Music. In 2002 Vern organized the award-winning Fusion Jazz Trio. FJT is known throughout the Lehigh Valley and has played such prestigious venues as Allentown Symphony Hall and the Levitt Pavilion at ArtsQuest, Bethlehem, PA. Though Vernon’s primary focus is Fusion, he still finds time to play with many local artists such as Barry Sames, Will Brock (Gerald Veasley), Gene Perla (Miles Davis/NinaSimone), Ian Holmes (American Idol), Moe Betta (Wyclef Jean), Richard Cummings (Harry Belafonte), and Robbi & Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon).
Patrick Kerssen is originally from West Milford, NJ, and has performed as a jazz pianist throughout the North Jersey, Pocono, and Lehigh Valley regions. In addition to playing with some of the top musicians in the Lehigh Valley and the Poconos, Patrick has had the opportunity to play and record internationally in the Czech Republic, recording on the Prague-based ARTA label in 2016. As a writer of big band music, Patrick’s original compositions have been performed and recorded by the Moravian College BIG Band, the 4 O’Clock Big Band at the Karel Velebny Summer Jazz Workshop in Frydlant, Czech Republic, and by the SteelStacks High School All-Star Big Band at Musikfest. More recently, he has started the publication process on his first book of transcriptions by his favorite pianist, Bobby Timmons. Beyond performing with Ginger and The Schnappes, Patrick runs his own trio (the Hot Takes Trio), directs music at Heidelberg Union Church in Slatington, PA, and maintains an active teaching studio.
Dan plays alto sax, soprano sax and flute and is a featured soloist in the band. He holds a degree in Jazz Studies and Performance from Ohio State University, where he became proficient in styles from swing to latin to bebop. During that time, he toured Europe with the OSU Jazz Ensemble and performed in famous festivals such as the Umbria Jazz Festival and Jazz à Vienne. To relax from his day job as a senior design and development engineer, Dan likes to study the jazz greats, transcribing fast, complex horn solos by ear and then playing them along with the original recordings. With an aptitude for engineering and craftsmanship, Dan enjoys restoring vintage instruments, including a 1979 Rhodes piano. Dan recently completed several recording projects, including The 60’s Project by Chris Ott, and a live recording at Miller Symphony Hall, 3Trios, led by legendary bassist Gene Perla (Elvin Jones) and world-renowned drummer Adam Nussbaum (Michael Brecker).
Company Name: Ginger and The Schnappes
Contact Person: Mary Ellen Williams
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Country: United States