is the second release for The Michael O'Neill Quintet featuring Kenny Washington. Their 2005 CD -- The Long and the Short of It -- received great critical acclaim. The new release also features the amazing Joe Locke on vibes, who plays on 7 of the 10 cuts. The material is mostly hard-hitting, straight ahead arrangements of timeless standards -- each a carefully considered setting for Kenny Washington's unique vocals. As of November first, Still Dancin' has been on the national "Jazzweek Chart" for two weeks -- entering at #15 and then climbing to #11 the second week!
Simply put, If there were a poll taken amongst musicians, singers and jazz fans in the San Francisco Bay Area to rate their favorite male vocalist, Kenny Washington would win hands down. With this recording, his popularity is bound to spread nationally and beyond.
Kenny is an exceptionally gifted singer with an amazing four octave range. The quickness, accuracy, melodic inventiveness and playfulness of his scat singing, combined with the soulfulness of his ballad interpretations are expressively filtered through a jazz aesthetic informed by years of playing the saxophone.
Michael O’Neill, a San Diego native, began studying clarinet at an early age. After the usual involvement with school bands and orchestras, Michael did a stint in the Air Force Band. Upon being discharged from the service, he entered college as a biology major with a music minor. There he studied composition and arranging as well as jazz performance while playing in clubs at night and on the weekends.
After graduating from college, Michael began a career in biology which lasted a couple of years before entering graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Insect Physiology at Texas A&M University. After two years of graduate school, he decided to give up biology and to pursue a full time career in music. Upon returning to the Bay Area, he began studying with the great Joe Henderson while playing in dance bands, salsa bands and doing jazz gigs.
About this time, Michael became very involved with composition, forming various groups to perform his original material. This started a trend that continues today with The Michael O'Neill Quintet featuring the extrodinary vocalist, Kenny Washington. Besides jazz composition, Michael’s interests have taken him into orchestral and ethnic musical forms. He began writing music for corporate and industrial films which led to documentary and television film scoring that now includes a long list of credits.
Michael has been active in the last several years, leading various types of jazz groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. These include a three year engagement with his trio at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and his current -- now in it’s sixth year -- engagement with his quartet at Cetrella in Half Moon Bay. Besides his small group performances, Michael has performed with several of the Bay Area’s leading big bands including a two year stint with the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra (the Monday night band at Jazz At Pearl’s). He regularly performs at the leading jazz venues in the Bay Area including Yoshi’s, Jazz at Pearl’s, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, the Jazz School and Anna’s Jazz Island, both as a leader of his own groups and as a sideman with others.
Kenny Washington, a native of New Orleans, grew up singing gospel music in church. He performed with the school band, playing saxophone and singing. After graduating from high school, he continued his musical studies at Xavier University where 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 toured nationally and internationally throughout the US, Asia, Russia, and Australia. After nine years as a musician in the Navy, Kenny made his home in the San Francisco Bay Area where he began performing and recording with other well known artists. He 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’ Top of the Mark for eight years.
Kenny can be seen regularly at Jazz at Pearl’s on Monday nights with the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra. He has recently been touring in Norway and Thailand with a New York based rhythm section led by bassist Patrick O’Leary. This group was selected by a jury led by Wynton Marsalis as part of a State Department project to represent the United States abroad.
Joe Locke is regarded by many to be the most gifted vibraphonist of his generation. His international reputation as a player, composer, band leader and conceptualist has been further enhanced recently by the accolades he has received for the creative output of his touring and recording projects, namely his 4 Walls of Freedom (voted one of the top ten CDs of 2003 by DownBeat Magazine), and his work in the U.S. and Japan with the Joe Locke/Geoffrey Keezer Group. This unit's live performance at Ballard Jazz Festival in Seattle, was awarded the Earshot Jazz 2005 Golden Ear Award as Concert of the Year.
Early this yeat (2007) Joe was Artist in Residence at the "Jazz Baltica Festival" in Salzau. Also, he was recently invited to present "An Evening with Joe Locke" at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London for which he composed and premiered new works for the RAM percussion ensemble.
Locke's recording "Rev.elation" -- The Music of vibes master Milt Jackson, stayed at #1 on Jazz Week's national radio chart for an unprecedented 8 weeks in 2005/2006. In June 2006 Joe Locke was honored with the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) Award for "Mallet Player of the Year".
A list of the artists with whom Joe has performed and recorded exhibits his diversity as an artist. That list includes Grover Washington Jr., Kenny Barron, Dianne Reeves, Eddie Daniels, Jerry Gonzales' Fort Apache Band, Rod Stewart, The Beastie Boys, Eddie Henderson, Hiram Bullock, Bob Berg, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Ron Carter, Jimmie Scott, Geoffrey Keezer, The Mingus Big Band and Randy Brecker to name only a few.
Joe Locke has released more than 20 recordings as a band leader, and appeared on more than 100 albums as a guest artist.