The year 1998 birthed a new sound out of the spirit of Kansas City jazz. The Grand Marquis, then a quartet, consisted of Carl “Slim” Hanson (guitar & lead vocals), Bryan Redmond (saxophones), Andy Dondzila (upright bass), and Lisa McKenzie (drums). The initial sound was a healthy mix of late 1940's/early 1950's rhythm & blues, rockabilly and hot jazz styles that served as a jumping off point for their original music. 1999 brought the addition of bassist and longtime friend, Ben Ruth, adding the raw, driving force that helped cultivate and develop the sound.
The year 2000 was celebrated by the release of their debut CD release “Burlesk” which has definite rockabilly roots and raw energy. Trumpeter Chad Boydston was added to the lineup early in 2002, putting the icing on the cake for the now-quintet’s second CD entitled “Le Chant Du Diable Bleu,” featuring some moodier material alongside uptempo romps.
The Grand Marquis underwent a transformation in August of 2003. Sammy Nicolier came into the fold as guitarist, while Redmond’s baritone voice replaced the departing Hanson on lead vocals.
Their new more refined style shines through in their eponymous third CD release from 2004, more inspired by the classic Kansas City jazz sound than anything. The band’s versatility and road legs were strengthened following their nationwide 30-city tour that year; McKenzie added washboard and marimba to her arsenal, while Ruth picked up the sousaphone.
In 2005 and 2006 the Grand Marquis continued building a solid reputation in Kansas City and the midwest. They earned accolades as ‘Best Jazz Band’ in consecutive years from their KC fans by playing hundreds of live shows, concerts and events, while working on new material and honing their sound.
In late 2007 the Grand Marquis released “One More Day,” which showcased their musical versatility and maturity. Myles Gorham then replaced Nicolier on guitar in October 2008 and stayed on through February 2010, making way for current guitarist Ryan Wurtz.
Not long after completing the current lineup in 2010, they released their latest cd “Hold On To Me” which highlights their trademark Kansas City style with some New Orleans flair. That fall they won the Topeka, Kansas region of the International Blues Challenge, earning them a trip to compete in the national Memphis, TN competition comprised of nearly 200 bands where they placed in the Finals (top 8).
While in Memphis they recorded at the legendary Sun Studio, and in early 2012 released "The Sun Session," a 7" 45rpm vinyl record and enhanced cd package that highlights the fruits of this session.
Today the Grand Marquis continue to shine as one of the hardest working bands in the region; carrying on the tradition, making their own brand of jumpin’ blues and hot swinging jazz. Ever ubiquitous in the Kansas City music scene, the Grand Marquis are finding themselves in demand around the Midwest and Midsouth as an innovative, versatile and thoroughly entertaining band. The future is indeed bright!