Kendra Shank!

Friday night, I went to the 55 Bar—one of several small, inviting, low-to-no-cover jazz clubs in New York City’s West Village—to hear Kendra Shank sing in celebration of her (improbably) 50th birthday. Audiophiles will recall Shank’s mid’90s album, Afterglow (on the Mapleshade label), one of the best-sounding jazz-vocal records in recent times as well as a balladeer’s strong debut. In the years since, her voice has grown suppler, deeper, more versatile, dynamic, controlled, and adventurous. Her first mentor was the late Shirley Horn, and her biggest strength remains the ballad (she opened Friday’s set with a heartfelt and swinging “Like Someone in Love”). But she has also come under the sway of Abbey Lincoln (her most recent CD, A Spirit Free, is a Lincoln tribute, and a wonder), and so she staggers rhythms, syncopates lines unexpectedly, stretches a phrase, then snaps it back, with a fine feel for the building and release of tension—and she does it all with a purity of pitch and tone that eluded both her teachers (or that they both evaded in any case). Her rhythm section included the wondrous pianist Frank Kimbrough (whose new solo CD, Air, is, as I’ve written here already, one of the year’s best), Dean Johnson on bass, and Tony Mereno on drums. The band is mind-melding tight. Shank sings at the 55 Bar the last Friday of every month.
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rvance's picture

One of the many perks of living in New York! Whenever I loan out music to the cognoscenti in my small town I always throw in Kendra's Afterglow to get a reaction. It's usually one of the faves. Good to hear you are a fan. Very nice description of the music, BTW. I could almost feel I was ther.

water damage restoration's picture

It seems that more would leave a decent comment since this post was about one of the best Jazz singers ever. I guess they missed the whole thing.

melissa's picture

Kendra Shank is an original. A singer with a sound. Putting her own spin on a repertoire that embraces jazz originals, standards, and French tunes, Kendra Shank transcends musical genres and is indeed an original.

aluminum windows's picture

Wow, great way to share your experience. Interesting and nice way of presenting.

plarges's picture

Friday night, I went to the 55 Bar—one of several small, inviting, low-to-no-cover jazz clubs in New York City’s West Village—to hear Kendra Shank sing in celebration of her (improbably) 50th birthday.

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