by Tom Alvarez, Indianapolis Performing Arts Examiner
September 14, 2011
Vocalist Kevin Mahogany and his distinctive jazz styling were certainly enough to satisfy the fans who came to see him perform Wednesday at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club in downtown Indianapolis.
However, the real icing on the cake of his performance was the tremendous band of seasoned musicians who accompanied him. Well known to local audiences, they included Steve Allee on piano, Frank Smith on bass, Kenny Phelps on drums and Rob Dixon on saxophone. Their presence with Mahogany was courtesy of Indy Jazz Fest, which partnered with the Cabaret to present him.
Mahogany, who is a native of Kansas City, is also a recording star. Possessing a rich baritone voice, he has toured worldwide and has received critical acclaim and numerous awards for his interpretations of jazz and blues standards.
Physically large in stature, Mahogany showed vulnerability and a penchant for romantic sentiment in a program consisting of ballads such as “I Want to Talk About You,” “Our Love is Here to Stay,” “When I Fall in Love,” and “My Romance.”
During breaks between songs, Mahogany shared background about his song choices, as well as anecdotes. Telling the audience, “I like to sing melodies,” he laughed when recalling a reviewer who criticized him as a jazz singer for doing so.
Mahogany also shared that he met saxophonist Dixon in Siberia when the two of them played a gig together and said that it was he who was responsible for his appearance at the Cabaret.
Demonstrating his tremendous skill at scat singing, Mahogany also performed “You’re My Centerpiece,” an original composition, “Still Swingin’” and “Money’s Getting Cheaper.”
The musicians in the band were all given opportunities to shine in solo performances that showcased their huge talents and skilled technique in “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Route 66” and “On Green Dolphin Street.”
For an artist with such a gift for sensitive communication with his audience through song, it was ironic that much of Mahogany’s humor tended toward the put-down variety. Cracking jokes throughout the show – his target was his fellow musicians – how he didn’t like them – that they weren’t very good, etc. Immediately after doing so, he would then assure them and the audience that he was simply teasing.
Faintly amusing in the beginning, his jokes just became annoying after a while, causing this writer to wonder why a performer of his caliber felt he had to resort to sophomoric humor to entertain his audience at the expense of his fellow musicians.
Click here to read Tom’s article with pictures.
"One of the best environments for serious music fans in town!"Cabaret Guest