Last Glenwood Springs Summer of Jazz show a tribute to Kansas City
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Tonight, if you feel like dancing at Two Rivers Park, just go for it.
That’s how vocalist Kevin Mahogany feels.
“If the spirit moves you, that’s probably one of the best compliments anyone can give,” he said, talking for himself and his Kansas City Review.
This evening, Mahogany, the Godfathers of Groove, Red Holloway and Kathy Kosins will be rounding out this year’s Summer of Jazz concert series. The show is in honor of jazz shouter “Big” Joe Turner and the city who spawned so many other musicians in the genre. There’s a strong theme here, but no costumes ” just lively, dance-inducing tunes from the past and present.
That’s about all Mahogany was going to say in the way of a description.
“You know, most of the time it’s other people that make comparisons and justifications,” he explained.
So he didn’t talk about his deep, yet velvety smooth voice or his 10 CDs or favorite touring spots. It’s the effect of music he’s really interested in, it seems.
“Being able to touch people, to move people is very important,” he said.
Even as a youngster, he knew that was part of the performance thing. Growing up in Kansas City, he was surrounded by a town with a musical mindset. He spent his formative years seeing the Kansas City Philharmonic and Basie Orchestra and taking clinics with the likes of famous sax player “Cannonball” Adderley. Throughout those early days, Mahogany had moments where he felt impassioned.
“Little things like that kind of add up to make you appreciate what you’re doing or what you’re not doing,” he said. “What you want to do.”
In the beginning, he was more of an instrumentalist, going after saxophone and piano. By 12, he was playing professional gigs.
While in college, he shifted into singing. After graduation, he started touring, doing lots of jazz, but other styles as well. He truly came into prominence in the 1990s, after the debut of his first album, “Double Rainbow.” In short succession, he released three more well-received ones. In 1996, he was in Robert Altman’s film “Kansas City,” where he played a musician reminiscent of Big Joe.
But none of these accomplishments are what stick out to Mahogany most from his career. What matters, he explained, is when people tell you your work matters. He remembered one woman who came up to him after a concert and said that her father had recently died. She’d found some solace listening to Mahogany’s music on the train ride to the funeral. Another time, a man told him that his friend had AIDS and was confined to a hospital room. For this friend, playing Mahogany’s music gave him a bit of joy.
“When people tell you that, it’s great,” said Mahogany. “That’s what you want to do, to be able to touch people like that and inspire them in one way or another, to help through your music. Because that’s the gift I’ve got to give.”
He laughed and compared music to alcohol. In the good times, people use it to celebrate. In the bad, they use it to forget. Either way, Mahogany’s there to help.
“That’s what we want to do,” he said, “to transport people away from what bothers them or transport them to what they want to be or what they will enjoy.”
Every time he steps out on stage, he’s reading the audience. He’s sensing how they’re feeling and trying to decide what they might need to be hearing. The mood might shift throughout a show, and it’s no small responsibility keeping up with it. But, as he put it, if he’s not doing all that, he’s not really doing his job.
“The object is to always leave them with everything I have, just to give them the best that I’ve got for that night,” he explained. “I mean, that’s the whole thing for me, is just singing for them, not at them, but for them, for their enjoyment.”
And that’s a job he loves.
So, why not dance tonight? Let Mahogany know he’s doing something right.
Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111
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