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Jazz vocalist Kenny Washington's house concerts
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Jazz vocalist Kenny Washington's house concerts

by E. Joyce Glasgow - SGN A&E Writer

Bay-area jazz vocalist Kenny Washington has been making waves lately. His high-profile appearances with top jazz vibraphonist Joe Locke at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in New York have given him a great forum to display his talent. They were performing the songs of Henry Mancini off Locke's recent CD, Cinema Paradiso. Seattle-area audiences were given a chance to enjoy Washington's musicianship as well this past weekend in two intimate salon-style duo concerts featuring Washington, with Seattle jazz pianist Bill Anschell. Both performances were produced by local jazz vocalist Nich Anderson, who told me that he started this ongoing vocal series to support jazz vocalists and give opportunities for people in outlying areas, to have easy access to great, live jazz. One performance was in Auburn, WA, and the other, which I attended, was in a beautiful home overlooking the water on Camano Island.

These informal monthly concerts are open to the public, with a maximum of 30 people. The suggested donation of $30 for these events, which feature a different well-known visiting jazz singer, with accompaniment, also includes a delicious, home-cooked buffet dinner. The experience created is one of a cozy music party at a good friend's house, and offers a supportive atmosphere for the performing artists. House concerts have become all the rage in the Seattle area lately, and I can see why. They really give the much-needed opportunity for people to gather pleasantly together in the spirit of community and friendship.

Kenny Washington performed a number of jazz standards in two sets with Anschell, a very creative and accomplished pianist who embodies a musical sensitivity which compliments the vocalists that he performs with. Washington has a relaxed, hip and comfortable vocal style, and an expressive, soulful and rich voice. Highlights of Washington's vocal performance were on tunes where he "stretched out" and improvised, scat-singing and exploring his considerable range, including his falsetto. His tunes included "Bewitched," a lively, swinging "Route 66," "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me," the Brazilian Bossa Nova tune "Desifinado," Miles Davis' "All Blues," Duke Ellington's "A Train," and "Lover Come Back to Me," with special guest Andy Carr sitting in on piano. I like Washington most when he takes on ballads, giving the audience more of a chance to journey with him into his inner, reflective self. He sang a wonderful rendition of the ballad "Everything Happens to Me."

These concerts are a special way to enjoy yourself, either alone or as a satisfying get-together with friends or family for an afternoon or evening of terrific music.

Upcoming concerts include the fabulous vocalist Jackie Ryan with Randy Halberstadt on piano on December 13; Typhanie Monique with Neal Alger on guitar on December 18; and Jo Lawry with Bill Anschell on piano on January 23 and 24. For more information, reservations and musical samples of the vocalists performing, visit www.jazzvox.com.

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