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Kendra Shank Quartet: Mosaic

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Kendra Shank is a complete vocalist—an appealing and intelligent interpreter of known and unknown material, a startlingly inventive improviser and the possessor of a rich, darkish voice that draws in the listener with feelings both familiar and brand new. Mosaic is a beautiful collection of tunes from favorite composers—some her friends, others her inspirations, all now her musical family.

Right from the start Shank makes it known that what matters is expressively emotional music through a poignant ballad reading of the Carole King pop hit "So Far Away." She's gorgeously complemented by the incandescent clarinet of Billy Drewes. Pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Tony Romero—her regular group—lock together tightly but manage to give each other the space to expand. Drewes and guitarist Ben Monder are guests but they become part of the same dynamic.

Shank draws from composers as diverse as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Johnny Mandel on the longtime standard side and from some contemporary wizards such as Kirk Nurock and Kimbrough. Lyricists John and Paula Hackett turn Cedar Walton's "Mosaic" into "Life's Mosaic" and it's buoyed by the singer's mysterious "Eastern" improvisations and the tenor obligati by Drewes and Monder's sensitive guitar. Kimbrough and his wife, vocalist Maryanne DeProphetis, have contributed the noble "For Duke" and Shank finds the sensuous majesty in both the tune and its original inspiration. Nurock is a notably prolific composer of a broad array of tunes and Kendra mines treasure in two—the lightly anthemic "I'm Movin' On" (with lyrics by another vocalist, Judy Niemack) and the hymn-like adaptation of texts by the 13th century Sufi poet, Rumi, "I'll Meet You There."

Mosaic reflects what feels like just a part of Shank's vast and complex interests but it becomes, as with all of her recordings, a world unto itself.

Track Listing: So Far Away; Life's Mosaic; Reflections in Blue/Blue Skies; Laughing at Life/Smile; The Shining Sea; Water From Your Spring/Beautiful Love; For Duke; All of You; Time Remembered; I'm Movin' On; I'll Meet You There.

Personnel: Kendra Shank: voice; Frank Kimbrough: piano; Dean Johnson: bass; Tony Moreno: drums; Billy Drewes: soprano and tenor saxophones, clarinet; Ben Monder: guitar.

Title: Mosaic | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Challenge Records

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