CD REVIEW: Kendra Shank - Reflections
By Ben Ohmart - 05/21/2007 - 10:34 AM EDT
Artist: Kendra Shank
Kendra gives us almost an hour’s worth of jazz standards, vocalized like a café in the mist. You peer and peer but you can’t quite make out where the voice is coming from. Wherever it is, there’s enough room for piano, drum and bass to back it up. Such a woman has been clubbing for years, you can tell by the way she treats the microphone. Sometimes like an ex-hubby, often like an old friend grateful for secrets.
2 of the best songs must be the opening ‘Alone Together’ and Ellington’s masterful ‘Reflections in D’, now christened simply ‘Reflections’. The former is nearly 6 minutes of smooth jazz just ‘beyond the crowd’. Kendra lets the instrumental children run and play for a bit, but they run back to her like quiet kids, knowing who’s boss, but more importantly, they know who’s soothing, like the correct mom with the cold formula. She eases things right.
And that’s just how title song ‘Reflections’ gives out. Ah, what a cool blue night it is. Kendra holds onto her notes just long enough, elegance personified, letting go for the piano/drum solo for just long enough again. The best song & arrangement to get pissed with. Break your heart and put your masochist boots on, brother, you’re in for a long night under the table.
But fear not, dawn rises with ‘This Is New’, that Weill/Gershwin composition that promises something greater for the hangover-encroached. Kendra will smooth out a few notes, and tilt others on the rebound.
However, the cd isn’t really a standards vehicle. Sure, the soft-centered ‘Let It Be’ is like the hush at the end of a lover’s embrace, but cuts like ‘Throw It Away’ and ‘The Silence of a Candle’ aren’t easily found in the usual set of candle-lit dinner hour clubs. Pianist Frank Kimbrough, bass-man Dean Johnson and he of the beat, Tony Moreno, fill out the quartet with style. The black tie sort. Mesmerizing small audiences with their intimate sounds and affably able tight sets and singer-induced spontaneity.
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