THE MICHAEL O’NEILL QUINTET – Tickets – Yoshi’s Oakland – Oakland, CA – April 3rd, 2017



Mon 4.3

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Yoshi's Oakland

Oakland, CA


Featuring special guests Kenny Washington & Tony Lindsay 

Michael O'Neil
Michael O'Neil
Recently described by JazzTimes as one of “the finest male jazz singers in the world,” Kenny Washington has earned a devoted following among peers like trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, pianist Geoffrey Keezer and vibraphonist Joe Locke. Avoiding publicity and participating in highly selective recordings, he’s long been considered the Bay Area’s best kept jazz secret. No one has done more to showcase his extraordinary talent than saxophonist/arranger Michael O’Neill, who has created a series of projects over the past decade featuring startlingly inventive arrangements specifically designed for Washington’s nonpareil talent. After 17 years of working together, Michael and Kenny are adding the great singer, Tony Lindsay, to the mix!

Tony Lindsay has been the lead singer for Santana for over 25 years and has garnered 11 Grammy awards, traveled on many world tours and is featured on seven Santana CDs: Milagro, Supernatural, Shaman, Ceremony, Food for Thought, Ultimate Santana, and Multi-Dimensional Warrior. When not on tour with Santana, Lindsay performs at various local venues and festivals. He is currently recording his fourth Solo CD. Michael, Kenny and Tony have long been good friends and are very excited about embarking on this new journey!

Performing together regularly at jazz clubs, theaters and major festivals, O’Neill and Washington have become dear friends and creative comrades. A prolific composer and arranger with a reputation for bringing out the best in jazz singers, O’Neill made a point of featuring Washington on his first album, 2004’s The Long and The Short Of It, which introduced his concept incorporating Washington’s soul-drenched voice as part of sextet horn arrangements. The dazzling approach came to full fruition on O’Neill and Washington’s critically acclaimed 2007 album Still Dancin’.

A native of New Orleans, Washington grew up in the Ninth Ward and first started singing in church, where his parents were both choir members. Though a strict upbringing kept him from experiencing much secular muisc in person, he had an epiphany during his senior year of high school when clarinet great Alvin Batiste performed at an assembly with a young band that included two precociously talented teenage brothers named Branford and Wynton Marsalis. He spent several years studying music at Xavier University, singing a variety of styles and paying particularly close attention to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Tormé.

Washington joined the Navy in the mid-1980s, and after a couple of years he joined a Navy band, a gig that took him all over the world, including an enticing visit to San Francisco. When he left the service in 1995 he processed out at Treasure Island and decided to stay in the Bay Area. He spent his first decade supporting himself with casuals--weddings and corporate events—while leaving a trail of slack-jawed musical peers astounded that such a gifted singer had yet to record his own album.

Instead of Washington blowing his own horn, a disparate cast of musicians has taken it upon themselves to champion him, including singers Kim Nalley and Mark Murphy, who declared, “Kenny’s got the gift.” The Pacific Mambo Orchestra featured Washington on their eponymous 2014 Grammy-winning album, while Joe Locke designed a gorgeous program of standards around him on For the Love of You (E1 Music) with Keezer, George Mraz and Clarence Penn.

“Kenny’s one of the very greatest living male vocalists, without a doubt,” Locke says. “He’s a sublime storyteller and exquisite balladeer. I love his familiarity with R&B, with Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke, and Marvin Gaye and how he can inject that feeling into the American Songbook in a very mature way.”

O’Neill, who turned Locke onto Washington, brings a lifetime of discernment to their musical relationship. Raised in San Diego, he started studying clarinet in grade school, and received early mentoring from a neighbor, the future studio drum star and jazz great John Guerin, who helped O’Neill with his first band in junior high. After a stint in the Air Force Band, he enrolled in college, where he majored in biology and minored in music (studying with veteran saxophonist Bud Young). Gigging on weekends after graduation, O’Neill found gainful employment as a biologist, which led him to start a doctoral program in insect physiology at Texas A&M University. But after two years the call of music became too powerful, and upon returning to the Bay Area he dedicated himself to a full-time career in music.

Studies with tenor legend Joe Henderson and a focus on composition and arrangement put him in the thick of the action. Besides jazz composition, he’s written and performed works in orchestral and ethnic musical forms, and composed music for television shows and corporate, industrial and documentary films. Working mostly as a bandleader in recent decades, he’s formed a series of stellar bands to perform his original music, while also presenting top-shelf Bay Area vocalists such as Grammy Award-winner Tony Lindsay, Jackie Ryan, Denise Perrier, Kim Nalley and Clairdee. Even amidst that impressive company, Kenny Washington stood out, and O’Neill has made it a point to get his brilliant light out from under a bushel.

“I felt like Kenny is a super talent, and he needs to be out there,” O’Neill says. “On those first albums I was working with this quintet and had an idea on how to work him in and it was an interesting experiment using him with the horns as another voice. New Beginnings marks a new phase, and quite frankly Kenny has never sounded better.”

"Visually, saxophonist Michael O’Neill and diminutive vocalist Kenny Washington
could play Mutt and Jeff. But on the bandstand they’re a dynamic duo, with O’Neill’s beautifully crafted arrangements unleashing Washington’s super improvisational powers. One of the glories of the Bay Area jazz scene, this band features trumpeter Erik Jekabson, pianist John R. Burr, bassist Dan Feiszli and drummer Alan Hall."
-Andrew Gilbert
Venue Information:
Yoshi's Oakland
510 Embarcadero West
Oakland, CA, 94607