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Kenny Washington w/ the Michael O'Neill Quintet - Cheek to Cheek
Born and raised in New Orleans, Kenny Washington grew up singing gospel in the church where his parents were choir members and playing saxophone in his school bands. Washington went on to study music at Xavier University, playing saxophone and singing in a variety of styles including pop, classical, R&B and jazz.
Washington joined the Navy band as a saxophonist, but when his singing prowess was discovered he became the band’s featured vocalist. With the Navy band, he performed across Asia, Russia, Australia and the U.S. After leaving the Navy in 1995, Kenny moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he has made his home ever since.
Washington has won over audiences at major jazz venues across the country, including three week-long engagements at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Joe Locke, the 55 Bar and the Knitting Factory in New York City, Snug Harbor in New Orleans, The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles all major San Francisco Bay Area jazz clubs including both Yoshi’s, The Jazz School, Anna’s Jazz Island, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Cetrella and The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay and Jazz at Pearl’s. He has headlined at major local festivals including the SFJazz Festival, the San Jose Jazz Festival, Jazz on the Hill, the Healdsberg Jazz Festival, the Stanford Jazz Festival, the Fillmore Jazz Festival and the North Beach Jazz Fest – many with the Michael O’Neill Quintet.
Kenny has performed and/or recorded with Louie Bellson, Wycleff Gordon, Jon Hendricks, Elvis Costello, Joel Harrison, Jason and Delfeayo Marsalis, Dave Mathews, Eddie Marshall, Akira Tana, Joe Locke, Geoffery Keezer, George Mraz Clarence Penn, the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, The Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, the Slammin’ All Body Band and of course The Michael O’Neill Quintet to name a few. Major recordings featuring Kenny include The Long and the Short of It with the Michael O’Neill Quintet, Still Dancin’ by the Michael O’Neill Quintet featuring Kenny Washington with special guest Joe Locke, Kenny Washington Live at Anna’s Jazz Island, and as special guest on Joe Locke’s recent, For the Love of You.
The San Francisco Chronicle recently called Kenny “the Superman of the Bay Area jazz scene.” Ravi Coltrane declared that Kenny was his favorite male vocalist. Mark Murphy said in a Jazz Times interview that Kenny was the only contemporary male vocalist that was carrying on the tradition and Kenny was recently voted a “Rising Star” in the male vocals category in the 57th Annual Downbeat Critics' Poll.
Michael O’Neill, a San Diego native, began studying clarinet at an early age. After taking up the saxophone at age thirteen, Michael performed in school bands and orchestras and later studied composition and arranging in college. As time went on Michael became increasingly involved with composition and formed groups to perform his original material. This started a trend that is ongoing today with his current quintet which features vocalist extraordinaire, Kenny Washington.
Michael currently performs weekly with his quartet at the Ritz Carlton Hotel He recently concluded a seven and a half year engagement with his quartet at Cetrella in Half Moon Bay. Michael did a two year stint with the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra and he has played many times at all the leading jazz venues in the Bay Area including both the San Francisco and Oakland Yoshi’s, Jazz at Pearl’s, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Anna’s Jazz Island, and The Jazz School as a leader of his own groups and as a sideman.
Michael has performed and/or recorded with Idris Muhammad, Joe Locke, Giacomo Gates, Eddie Fisher, Rodney Jones, Kim Nalley, Jackie Ryan, Tony Lindsay, Margie Baker, Akira Tana, Faye Carol, Brenda Boykin, Nicolas Bearde, Jeff Chambers, Rob Schneiderman, Mark Levine, Frank Jackson, Frank Martin, Larry Dunlap, Bobbi Norris, Peter Horvath, Matt Clark, Smith Dobson, Don Haas, Dave Mathews, Michael Bluestein, Omar Clay, Scott Morris and many others. Major recordings featuring Michael include The Long and the Short of It by the Michael O’Neill Quintet featuring Kenny Washington, Still Dancin’ by the Michael O’Neill Quintet featuring Kenny Washington with special guest Joe Locke, and Margie Baker and Friends, Live at Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.