Order 3 or more physical items and get 1¢ postal shipping
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington | New Beginnings

Go To Artist Page

Recommended if You Like
Ella Fitzgerald Geoffrey Keezer Joe Henderson

More Artists From
United States - California - SF

Other Genres You Will Love
Jazz: Jazz Vocals Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Moods: Solo Male Artist
There are no items in your wishlist.

New Beginnings

by Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington

Amazing jazz vocals set in innovative and creative arrangements with top flight instrumental solos.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
Release Date: 

We'll ship when it's back in stock

Order now and we'll ship when it's back in stock, or enter your email below to be notified when it's back in stock.
Continue Shopping
cd in stock order now
Share to Google +1

To listen to tracks you will need to update your browser to a recent version.

  Song Share Time Download
1. A Night in Tunisia
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington
6:22 $0.99
2. On Green Dolphin Street
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington
4:52 $0.99
3. Stella By Starlight
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington
5:46 $0.99
4. Creation of the Universe
Geoffrey Keezer
2:04 $0.99
5. It Ain't Necessarily So
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington
6:15 $0.99
6. Fly Me to the Moon
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington
6:24 $0.99
7. All the Things You Are
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington
7:02 $0.99
8. Oh What a Beautiful Morning
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington
5:27 $0.99
9. The Surrey With the Fringe On Top
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington
6:44 $0.99
10. Dinah
Michael O'Neill & Kenny Washington
5:14 $0.99
11. Nomali
Michael O'Neill
9:36 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The Michael O’Neill Sextet Featuring Vocalist Extraordinaire Kenny Washington Releases New Beginnings, A Sumptuous Session of Standards Featuring Piano Star Geoffrey Keezer

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. Their latest collaboration New Beginnings is slated for release on XXX, 2014 on O’Neill’s Jazzmo Records, and it captures Washington’s lithe and supple tenor caressing beloved American Songbook standards reimagined to sound as if they were written with him in mind.

“The arrangements are unique settings, and Kenny’s the jewel,” says O’Neill, who has forged deep ties to many of the finest vocalists in the Bay Area.

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’.

As the title suggests, New Beginnings marks a fresh departure for the musical partnership (as well as celebrating the birth of Washington’s son Miles). While the program includes some of the American Songbook’s best known pieces, O’Neill’s arrangements transform the familiar fare into state-of-the-art vehicles for improvisation. He turns Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “All the Things You Are” into a contrapuntal tour de force, while “Stella By Starlight” reaches warp five as an uncharacteristically brisk mambo workout. O’Neill is particularly effective unleashing Washington’s astounding scatting, which takes “A Night In Tunisia” into a whole new realm.

As important as the charts are the cats. O’Neill’s superlative working band features Berkeley-raised trumpeter Erik Jekabson, veteran drummer Alan Hall, and versatile bassist Dan Feiszli, who also handled duties as co-producer and recording and mixing engineer. Ace accompanist John R. Burr contributes beautiful piano work on five of the albums 12 tracks (including his gorgeous reharmonization of “Surrey With the Fringe On Top”), while piano star Geoffrey Keezer, the album’s only Bay Area ringer, displays a deep rapport with Washington on the other seven.

Keezer provides one of the album’s highlights with “Creation of the Universe,” his enticing solo prelude to a delectably simmering interpretation of “It Ain’t Necessarily So” featuring astounding rhythmic interplay. The pianist became a devoted Washington supporter after playing with him in Joe Locke’s band at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. More recently, they played a duo gig at the Sound Room in Oakland, where their impromptu rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon” led to the ravishing ballad interpretation on New Beginnings. As a showcase for Washington’s keen emotional intelligence, vivid improvisational imagination and unadulterated sense of swing, the album should cement his spot as talent deserving wider recognition.

As a singer raised in church and schooled in 1970s soul, Washington came to Broadway-centric project with a little trepidation, though he’s never been one to back down from a challenge. “They’re great songs, and I love the cast in Oklahoma,” Washington says. “Michael is such a good arranger. He put a modern twist on the material, which helps me a lot in the vocal delivery. Each time we perform it, I feel a tad bit more comfortable.”

His willingness to plunge into jazz’s deepest waters was evident last year when Wynton Marsalis recruited him for the lead role in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s reprise of his Pulitzer Prize-winning opus Blood on the Fields with Gregory Porter and Paula West. He got his first taste of national attention in the late 1990s when saxophonist Roy Nathanson hired him for his jazz theater production Fire at Keaton’s Bar & Grill. Washington performed at the New York City debut as part of a glittering cast with Elvis Costello, Deborah Harry and Nancy King, then went on the road for several European performances. While the production never picked up backing, the project was captured on an excellent cast album released in 2000 on Six Degrees Records.

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.

The fact that he’s not better known stems partly from the fact that Washington has only released one album under his own name, 2008’s Live at Anna’s Jazz Island. 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 at the College of San Mateo, 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.”



to write a review