By Carlo Wolff | Published December 2020
Another Great American Songbook recording might seem like a bore, but vocalist Kenny Washington knows how to respect tradition and refresh it. What’s The Hurry, the Bay Area vocalist’s first leader date, showcases his gutsy versatility.
Washington’s easygoing voice is a tutorial in confidence on the opening “The Best Is Yet To Come,” as Josh Nelson’s piano contrasts nicely with the vocalist’s insouciance. Jeff Massanari’s Brazilian-style guitar launches “S’Wonderful,” Washington’s elasticity evoking a more forthcoming Andy Bey. The song, capped by sassy whistle and sassier scat, shudders with pleasure.
Antônio Carlos Jobim’s “No More Blues (Chega De Saudade)” storms forth with unusual voicings, Washington threading a sweaty rhythm section; it winds down the album even as it stokes the fire. Washington is exuberant here singing or scatting, and Victor Goines’ clarinet is so bawdy it threatens to go off the rails. Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” ends the album on a sweet note as Massanari weaves a spare obbligato behind Washington’s vocal.
What’s The Hurry: The Best Is Yet To Come; S’Wonderful; Stars Fell On Alabama; I’ve Got The World On A String; I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues; Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered; Invitation; Here’s To Life; Sweet Georgia Brown; No More Blues (Chega De Saudade); Smile. (46:19)
Personnel: Kenny Washington, vocals; Josh Nelson, piano; Victor Goines, tenor saxophone, clarinet; Jeff Cressman, trombone; Mike Olmos, trumpet; Jeff Massanari, guitar; Ami Molinelli-Hart, Peter Michael Escovedo, percussion; Gary Brown, Dan Feiszli, bass; Lorca Hart, drums.