Kendra Shank Quartet on Tour in Support of New CD - "Mosaic"

Kendra Shank is a jazz vocalist that has been described by The Village Voice as "entrancing", and hailed by The New York Times as an artist with "effervescence, depth" and "integrity". On April 14, 2009 Kendra Shank reveals her most personal recording to date, Mosaic (on Challenge Records), the vocalist's fifth recording as a leader and the gripping follow up to A Spirit Free-Abbey Lincoln Songbook.

Mosaic reflects Kendra's experiences, relationships, stories, emotions and personality, in music and in life. From her early acting career, her deep immersion in the visual arts, to her singer/guitarist years in the cafes and clubs of Seattle; from the streets and subways of Paris to the most prestigious venues in New York City and around the world, Kendra Shank brilliantly "embodies all that a true jazz singer once was and is now" (Tom Terrell, JazzTimes).

Mosaic features a compelling book of songs from a diverse group of composers, from Carole King to Irving Berlin to Cedar Walton, with originals by Kimbrough, Shank and long-time friend and collaborator Kirk Nurock; all of the music unified by the highly unique approach Kendra and her quartet take in allowing the songs to unfold with joy, curiosity and spontaneity. Shank has always had a penchant for choosing off-the- beaten-path songs, in large part written by modern day jazz instrumentalists, intent on following her heart instead of trends. On Mosaic she follows this path once again, and the album offers a mini-tribute to pianists, with songs by Cedar Walton ("Life's Mosaic", also giving Kendra the album title), Frank Kimbrough ("For Duke", with lyrics by his wife, Maryanne de Prophetis), Bill Evans ("Time Remembered") and Kirk Nurock ("I'm Movin' On" and "I'll Meet You There" – written for Kendra specifically with texts adapted from the writings of Rumi).

The Kendra Shank Quartet, Kendra Shank (voice), Frank Kimbrough (piano), Dean Johnson (bass) and Tony Moreno (drums), is a working band that achieves a level of interaction and expressiveness unparalleled in the world of jazz vocalists. They are joined on Mosaic by special guests Billy Drewes (soprano & tenor saxophones, clarinet) and Ben Monder (guitar). Mosaic is the first CD to be released under the name, "Kendra Shank Quartet, " indicative of the fact that these four musicians have had a significant impact and influence on each other's development. Together, through countless hours in the studio and on stage, they have created a unique group sound that is a "Mosaic" of their unique personalities, on and off the bandstand. "Mosaic is the culmination of the band's 10-year evolution into a high level of interplay, spontaneity, openness and creativity, " said Kendra.

In addition to listening to the music thoroughly, the anatomy of Mosaic can be found in Kendra's own words (from the album's liner notes): "Mosaics . . . our experiences, relationships, choices, forming a lifetime . . . individuals joining in community – each person part of a larger whole, both locally and globally . . . in improvised music, each musician contributing her/his unique personality of textures, colors, stories, emotions, to create a work of art greater that the sum of its parts – a paradigm for a way of living, of embracing our diversity and coming together in unity."

Kendra Shank's 2007 release, A Spirit Free: Abbey Lincoln Songbook, received "Best of the Year" citations in Downbeat, Jazz Times, Newsday, Jazz Improv NY, Slate, and others. Her critically acclaimed debut recording, Afterglow (1994), was co-produced by Shirley Horn for Mapleshade Records. After forging successful careers in Paris, France and Seattle, WA, Shank moved to New York in 1997 where she recorded two albums for Jazz Focus Records, Wish (1998) and Reflections (2000). During this time she played with a host of stellar musicians such as Fred Hersch, Jaki Byard, Bruce Barth and Larry Willis, and was mentored by jazz greats Jay Clayton, Shirley Horn, Abbey Lincoln, Bob Dorough, Nancy King and Sheila Jordan. Hailed by Downbeat as a top female vocalist (1999, 2006, 2007), Shank headlines at major venues across the U.S. and internationally. She has been featured on NPR's JazzSet and Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, was guest guitarist on Abbey Lincoln's Over The Years CD, and has been a vocal guest with Bob Dorough, Jay Clayton, Bud Shank, Randy Halberstadt and Peter Leitch.

Kendra's varied musical background and experiences unify into the single entity that is her new recording, Mosaic. On a journey from folk music to jazz, with stops at the stations of pop, country, bluegrass, French chansons, world, and "free" improv, Kendra has emerged as an adventurous, genre-bending vocalist that Gary Giddins calls "one of New York's most original performers" (Jazz Times). Shank's music is also informed by her diverse background in the arts: she was a theatre actor as a child (by the age of 5 she could sing Kurt Weil's entire score to The Threepenny Opera), and a visual artist from childhood through college (earned a double B.A. in Art & French). As a young woman she essentially became French, living in Paris, speaking fluent French by 19, and performing French popular music in the subways, street cafes and clubs of Paris. In 1989, splitting her time between Seattle & Paris, Shank developed into a full-fledged jazz singer and began touring major clubs & festivals. Her NYC debut was as auspicious as it gets, taking place at The Village Vanguard in 1992 in a showcase presented by Shirley Horn, as part of Horn’s own engagement (this is also the night Kendra met her pianist Frank Kimbrough).

In addition to touring extensively in support of Mosaic, the “mosaic” of the artist’s eclectic interests extends to other endeavors in her career: Shank is in the beginning stages of a collaboration with the Mark Lamb Dance company which will encompass improvised dance and improvised music (along with vocalist Kyoko Kitamura). She is also exploring completely improvised a cappella music with a group of five vocalists.

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