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Kevin Mahogany: Premium Grade

Kevin Mahogany (photo: Alan Nahigian)
Kevin Mahogany (photo: Ronald Eckstein)
Kevin Mahogany (photo: Tom Tavee)

From the moment he grabs the mic and begins scatting like mad on the opening track of his latest Warner Bros. recording, Another Time Another Place, the joy of swinging and singing that comes from the big baritone voice of Kevin Mahogany speaks the truth. It speaks of a palpable exultation in the gift of music making he’s been amply blessed with; it speaks of the Kansas City blues tradition he has so capably inherited; it also speaks of dues paid and rewards being collected; and it speaks in a tongue that rejoices in the very maleness of his instrument and his capacity for song-males being a fairly rare breed in the vocal ranks of jazz, particularly paling by comparison to the rich cadre of female vocalists in the music.

Moving incrementally from piano to clarinet to saxophone and finally to his true calling, exercising those fine vocal cords he’s been blessed with, the Kansas City native took more than a minute to embark upon this particular journey of song. He sang in concert choirs and even formed a jazz choir during his undergrad days at diminutive Baker University, but not until he realized the limitations of big band saxophone jobs did he determine that his pipes just might be his fortune.

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Originally Published

Willard Jenkins

Willard Jenkins has covered jazz artists, performances, and the jazz infrastructure since his early-’70s undergrad days writing for The Black Watch student newspaper at Kent State University. Additionally, he has been a jazz broadcaster since 1973— currently programming at WPFW in Washington, D.C.—and a jazz concerts and festivals presenter since 1978. He currently serves as artistic director of the DC Jazz Festival and artistic director of jazz programming at Tribeca Performing Arts Center (NYC). A founding member of the Jazz Journalists Association, he is also a recipient of its Lifetime Achievement award.