Feed "Kenny Washington" into Google and up come "Kenny Washington (Football player)," "Kenny Washington (Basketball)" and "Kenny Washington (Drummer)." None of whom is the Kenny Washington who wowed Danish jazz audiences for three nights at Jazzhus Montmartre, Copenhagen in October 2015.
That Kenny Washington was born in New Orleans and presently inhabits the Bay Area. Christian Brorsen, music director of the Jazzhus, says, "A great affection developed between Kenny and the audience. The public simply wouldn't let him leave the stage.
"He has a lot of heart and exudes a rare warmth. Along with perfect pitch and a repertoire that seems endless, he is a sensational singerand a greater entertainer than he realizesan authentic virtuoso."
All of which is amply borne out by this album of highlights from the diminutive (five foot, three inch) singer's gig and should one dayif there is any justicesee him arriving out of cyber space ahead of all his namesakes on Google.
He is, after all, an American cultural heritage, one worthy of protection by UNESCO, survivor of that endangered species of vocalist, the scat singer, part of a proud tradition started by Louis Armstrong
, no less, in 1926, when he forgot the words of "Heebie-Jeebies" and improvised instead.
Then came Leo Watson, who scatted trombone-style, followed by someone called Bon-Bon who sang with Jan Savitt's orchestra, Joe Carol who pioneered scat in be-bop, where it was taken up by Dizzy Gillespie
and later Clark Terry
. On the purely vocal front came the mighty King Pleasure and the great Jon Hendricks.
Now it's true that some of the works of Pleasure, Hendricks & Co. went over the heads of audiences, so Kenny Washington wisely leavens his repertoire with compositions by Stevie Wonder
and on thisamazingly only his second albumOtis Redding.
He also instils new life in that old chestnut "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?"
But he'll be best remembered by his many new Danish fans for the title track, "Moanin'" which starts with wordless wailing and builds through verses written by Jon Hendricks to a stunning climax.