Michael O'Neill Quintet: The Long and the Short of It (2004)
The quintet turns in a sensitive performance of the perennial "The Nearness of You featuring a charming, almost bashful-sounding solo from O'Neill. In addition, Washington turns in a vocal performance that is both soulful and modern, betraying the spirit of his acknowledged influences, Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway. Elsewhere, on the O'Neill original "Masai, which features percolating percussion from Danilo Paiz, Washington assumes the role of third horn and blends nicely with the band until he swoops into a solo that leaves no doubt about the expansiveness of his range. More often than not, "Caravan is destined to be a highlight of any program, and the tense reading turned in by the quintet does not disappoint.
The Long and the Short of It features a thoroughly accomplished band blessed with the presence of a gifted singer who functions as part of the band and not as some sort of conspicuous and garish ornament. Such musicianship is rare and always welcome.
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Track Listing: It's Alright With Me; Masai; The Nearness Of You; Kilimanjaro; Grey Whale Cove; Caravan; I Know What Love Is; Bye Bye Blackbird.
Personnel: Michael O'Neill: tenor and soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute; Kenny Washington: vocals; Steve Campos: trumpet, flugelhorn; Michael Bluestein: piano 1-4, 6, 8); Murray Lowe: piano 5, 7); Peter Barshay: bass; Alan Hall: drums; Danilo Paiz: percussion.
Record Label: Jazzmo Records