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On the Fashion of Jazz: A Conversation with FTH’s Clyde Bullard & Michael Mwenso

Michael Mwenso of Mwenso & The Shakes and Clyde Bullard, Jazz Producer and Curator at Flushing Town Hall, routinely turn up the dial on fashion in their lives and on stage. The renowned jazz artists have joined forces to present a fantastic event in Flushing Town Hall’s theater on March 2. Both sat down with us to talk about the influences that shaped their artistry and wardrobes. Here’s a sneak peek at the conversation below:

Where does your style come from?

Clyde: My style has always come from following my natural instinct to be different… when I see something that I think fits my persona and what I do, I just grab it and put it on. I don’t do it to attract attention. I do it because I like it, and somehow it has gotten attention.

Michael: The first inspiration was my mother, she was the original stylist. And just watching her and how she put things together, how she prepared things together, and I would probably say when I was a little boy and getting into performing, she would dress me up. And then style changed, and certain people, I used to love how they dressed.

And as I started figuring out who I wanted to be, I developed my own way of doing it. I’m really a planner, I see the stuff before I get it, so I know what I see before I go to the shop, I know it. I’m not one of those people who spends hours in there; I go and it’s immediate.

What will it be like to have Mwenso & The Shakes perform at Flushing Town Hall?

Clyde: No matter who you see performing here, you already know it’s going to be a great, professional, exhilarating show. Michael Mwenso… you’re going to seeing great artistry, you’re going to be seeing a glimpse of what I believe is going to be the future or part of the future of what jazz artists are doing by making more of a multi-media experience, not only great music and movement but color and fashion.

Michael: If you love jazz music, if you love messages of empowerment, if you love messages of overcoming and believing in yourself, if you love the music that deals with blues, rhythm and blues, funk, African music, Mwenso & The Shakes on March 2 is the night for you.

Any recommended dress code?

Michael: Come and be yourself. We’re going to dress in a certain way which exhibits freedom and joy… Be prepared to dance and be prepared to wear something which will also exhibit your own power, your own strength. Don’t come wearing a suit. Come wearing a funky suit.

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