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Kevin Mahagony. Image courtesy of the artist.

The Buffalo News Summer Jazz Series: World-Renowned Trendsetter Kevin Mahogany with Perennial Jazz Favorite, Baritone Saxophonist Bruce Johnstone

Sunday, August 6, 2017 ● 2 pm

FREE
Delaware Stairs

With more than ten recordings as a leader, vocalist, businessman, and educator, Kevin Mahogany has been the standard-setter for jazz vocalists for three decades. His broad baritone was forged in his hometown: the legendary jazz metropolis known as Kansas City. It was there that he learned to swing like Charlie Parker, shout the blues like Big Joe Turner, and cry a ballad like Lester Young, while extending, elaborating, and refining the jazz vocal legacies of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Eddie Jefferson, and Al Jarreau into the myriad, interwoven dimensions of music, from gutbucket, the Great American Songbook, and gospel, to Mingus and Motown.

Kevin Mahogany played the piano, clarinet, and baritone saxophone before he started singing in high school. He played saxophone on his first professional gig with Eddie Baker’s New Breed Orchestra. Mahogany studied with local jazz legend Ahmad Aladeen at the Charlie Parker Academy, and matriculated at Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas, where he formed a jazz vocal choir and earned a BFA in Music, English, and Drama in 1981. He returned home and joined a nine-piece horn band called Robinson-Pike. He later formed two R&B-centric bands: The Apollos and Mahogany. In 1991, he toured with the NRE Trio, and was featured on pianist Frank Mantooth’s 1993 album, Dangerous Precedent.

Also in 1993, Mahogany released his debut recording, Double Rainbow, on the Enja label. Specializing in performing seldom-heard songs, the stylistic range of Mahogany’s recordings range from the kinetic big band bravura of Pussy Cat Dues: The Music of Charles Mingus, which featured Mingus sidemen trombonist Jimmy Knepper and alto saxophonist Charles MacPherson with the WDR Big Band, to Pride and Joy, his ebullient Motown tribute featuring the music of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Michael Jackson, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

Mahogany published a magazine, The Jazz Singer, and, with his business partner, Rick Cioffi, started his own Mahogany Jazz label, and recorded two recordings: Kevin Mahogany: Big BandTo: Johnny Hartman, a tribute to the exceptional vocalist who recorded with Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, and The Coltrane Hartman FantasyVol. 1, with tenor saxophonist Tony Lakatos, inspired by the legendary 1963 Impulse recording, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.

In addition to being a trend-setting leader of the first order, Kevin Mahogany has also been an in-demand sideman and guest artist with a select cadre of jazz stars. He’s recorded with T. S. Monk (Monk on Monk), The Ray Brown Trio (Christmas Songs With Ray Brown), Marlena Shaw (Dangerous), Roseanna Vitro (Passion Dance), Carl Allen (Testimonial), Barbara Morrison (Visit Me), and Elvin Jones (It Don’t Mean A Thing).

In 1996, Mahogany made his screen debut in the 1996 Robert Altman film Kansas City, portraying a character based on blues singer Big Joe Turner, and was also featured on soundtrack. 

Mahogany is also an exceptional master teacher, as evidenced by his well-received work teaching at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the University of Miami. He received an Honorary Degree from his alma mater, Baker University, in 2001.

Well into the change of the 21st century, Kevin Mahogany continues to restructure the vocal metaphysics of a jazz thing, with his dynamic and down-home artistry.

About the Series

The Buffalo News Summer Jazz Series concerts take place on the museum’s Delaware Stairs overlooking Hoyt Lake on five Sundays at 2 pm, from July 9 through August 6. Admission is free. In case of rain, performances will be held in the Albright-Knox’s Auditorium on a first-come, first-seated basis. Indoor concerts are free with museum admission (and free for Albright-Knox Members). View 2017 Series

Parking

Limited parking is available in the museum’s parking lot on Elmwood Avenue. Parking is $5 for visitors and $3 for Members. Please bring your parking ticket into the museum to have it validated at the Admissions Desk. There is also parking available on the roads surrounding the Albright-Knox. Please take care to adhere to all parking regulations. Violators will be ticketed and/or towed. View Parking Map (PDF)

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