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“A Talent Deserving Wider Recognition” in the 1999 Down Beat International Critics’ Poll, Shank shines on Reflections, her September 12th Jazz Focus CD, featuring her impressionistic approach and eclectic song selections

Kendra Shank

Kendra Shank is a special jazz singer, one not afraid to take risks and one soulful enough not to do things just for effect. Fans and critics alike praise her individuality and compelling, creative performances. Musically speaking, she does not confine herself to any one thing but makes all kinds of songs her own, as she reveals on Reflections, her second Jazz Focus release and the followup to the chart-topping Wish. Shank will celebrate Reflections on Monday, October 16th, at a CD release party at the Jazz Standard in New York City. Her regular working band, also featured on the CD, will play: Frank Kimbrough, piano; Dean Johnson, bass; and Tony Moreno, drums.

As critic Terry Teachout advises:
“If you should be lucky enough to happen into a club where Kendra Shank is singing, you’ll know that you are hearing a voice that is decidedly out of the ordinary. Its warm, smooth-textured and fine-grained….and once it finds its way into your inner ear, you’ll want to hear it again and again.”

Shank continues to garner such high-level attention for her vocal experimentations, pliable voice and unique style. In 1999, she was selected as a “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition” by the Down Beat International Critics’ Poll. Her 1999 album, Wish, garnered five-stars and was called a “multigeneric masterpiece” by The Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Album Guide. “Splendidly original” wrote Gary Giddins of Shank in the Village Voice. Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times has characterized her vocals as “cutting-edge, improvisationally shaded.”

With Reflections (JFCD037), Shank has made another memorable album of original style like Wish that calls upon her improvisational talents and folk-singing roots. The recording encompasses the world of John Lennon and Paul McCartney (“Let It Be,” a prayer as well as precaution) just as easily and knowingly as it does Abbey Lincoln (the percussion-driven “Throw It Away”), Jimmy Rowles and Norma Winstone (the finely wrought “A Timeless Place,” a/k/a “The Peacocks”) and the standards of Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz (a left-of-center reading of “Alone Together”) and Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin (the rarely performed “This Is New”). Anchoring the entire project is the little-known Duke Ellington gemstone “Reflections” (a/k/a “Reflections in D” without the brilliant lyrics of Marjorie and Milt Raskin), which Shank chose as the title track.

Shank, a seasoned world traveler and performer, left Seattle – her long-time home – in 1997 to move to New York City. She still returns to the Northwest from time to time just as she maintains her long-standing Paris connections. Little did she know, as a student at the University of Washington, that her studies in visual arts and French literature would not be her ultimate calling. And little did the folk singer in the Paris metro suspect that jazz would become her real home. Now it all fits together seamlessly: the jazz, the delight in French song (the dancing, bittersweet French waltz “Papillon des Nuits” a/k/a “Cuban Waltz”), her folk music and guitar skills (hear how she mines the essence of guitarist Ralph Towner’s “The Silence of A Candle”), even her Seattle roots, tipping her cap to two Seattle musicians, bassist Jeff Johnson (“I’m Never Sure”) – he appeared with her on Wish – and pianist Randy Halberstadt (“When Springtime Turns to Fall”).

Central to the success of Reflections – its deep, seductive power – is the extraordinary harmonization among the band, pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Tony Moreno. Together the group explores the length and breadth of the music, with each member of the ensemble contributing fresh ideas, and delighting listeners as well. Says Shank, “I am so happy to have a band of such stellar players to work with on a consistent basis. Their creativity spurs mine.”

Jazz artists, as well as critics, continue to hail Kendra Shank. Her first CD, Afterglow (Mapleshade, 1994), was coproduced by Shirley Horn – an early mentor – and featured coproducer/pianist Larry Willis and saxophonist Gary Bartz. Another mentor, Abbey Lincoln, calls Shank “an original. A singer with a sound.” Recognizing Shank's instrumental prowess, Lincoln recently invited Shank to play guitar on her new recording, Over The Years (Verve), and also asked her to guest at a recent Blue Note engagement. This past June, the great jazz vocalist/composer sat in with Shank's ensemble at Caviarteria, as did another Shank mentor, the Seattle-based singer Jay Clayton. A tribute from two artists for another who “has her own sensuous way of phrasing, stretching time to suit her taste, a lithe voice, and a knowing repertoire” (Gary Giddins, Village Voice).



Where: The Jazz Standard
116 E. 27th Street (between Park & Lexington)

When: 8 pm / 10 pm
What: $15 – 20 per show
How: For tickets and more information, please call (212) 576.2232.

“Kendra Shank sounds like sunlight shining through a stained-glass window,her crystalline tone illuminating each song…" --Patricia Myers, JazzTimes

“An adventurous and innovative artist who commands attention in the growing gallery of jazz vocalists." --Robert Daniels, Variety

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