It is always a pleasure discovering something new, even if that "new" has been around for a while. So it is with Kendra Shank, as complete a jazz singer as one could wish for. And on this her third album, Shank sings to tunes composed by Duke Ellington, Abbey Lincoln, Kurt Weill, Ralph Towner and The Beatles. That nails the concept of the singer she is, dead center.
Shank who was once a folk singer made her recording debut in 1992. She has turned into a beguiling voice, a singer who captivates with her understanding of a lyric. She turns words into experiences, sentences into motifs that travel into the well of observant encounter.
Credit for making this album what it is also goes to her band. They are right behind, feeding her, imbibing the spirit, fleshing out the songs. Perhaps the best interaction comes on the riveting "Throw It all Away" where she engages in heady dialogue with Johnson and Moreno on a scat and vocalese segment making it quite the highpoint of the album.
There is more to cherish. The singing is straightforward but nevertheless deeply felt on "Reflections" and the bright tempo of "This Is New" showcases her verve. And yes the Beatles. She changes the lyrics a bit on "Let It Be", but there is no denying the depth of emotion that raises the level of this pop classic. This is a well-realized effort.
Personnel: Kendra Shank: Vocals, guitar; Frank Kimbrough: Piano; Dean Johnson: Bass; Tony Moreno; Drums and percussion