Recently dubbed “the Superman of the Bay Area jazz scene” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Kenny Washington is a jazz virtuoso who thrills audiences with his soulful interpretations, seemingly limitless range, and rapid-fire scatting. Ravi Coltrane has declared Kenny his favorite male vocalist, and Mark Murphy said in a Jazz Times interview that Kenny was the only contemporary male vocalist carrying on the tradition.
Kenny Washington, a native of New Orleans developed a deep love for music at a very young age. Kenny grew up singing and performing gospel in church. He began performing with the school band, playing saxophone and singing. After graduating from high school Kenny continued his studies in music at Xavier University. While at Xavier, he studied various styles of music ranging from traditional and contemporary jazz to classical, rhythm and blues and pop.
Joining the honorary U.S. Navy Band in 1986, Kenny performed and toured nationally and internationally through out the U.S., Asia, Russia, and Australia. After nine years as a musician in the U.S. Navy, Kenny made his home in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began performing and recording in various jazz clubs in the with other well known artists. Kenny appeared in Roy Nathanson’s off-Broadway production “Fire at Keaton’s Bar and Grill,” with Elvis Costello and Deborah Harry, in London and New York. Kenny was the featured vocalist at the San Francisco’s world famous Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel’s “TOP OF THE MARK” for eight years.
Kenny is the featured vocalist on saxman Michael O’Neill’s CDs, “The Long and the Short of It”, and “Still Dancin,” recorded on Jazzmo records. Kenny is also one of the featured vocalists on the Slammin’ All Body Band CD, with Keith Terry.
If you have never heard this New Orleans native sing before, get ready for a jaw dropping experience. Kenny is a jazz vocalist virtuoso. Emulating the classic styles of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and infusing colors of Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, Kenny’s free, playful approach, with over a four-octave range is awe inspiring. His tone on ballads is liquid, his scat is so rapid-fire, passionate, melodious and inventive that subsequent saxophone solos often pale, and his intonation is so precise that it becomes noticeable if the piano wasn’t tuned that day. His range seems limitless. With a childhood background singing in gospel, Kenny is at home with the Blues as well as Jazz. This man is a must-see.
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