Kendra Shank



This is my idea of an intimate, straight-to-the-heart jazz ballad singer. She’s somewhat in the vein of Diana Krall, but maybe a little more passionate. Shirley Horn brought Kendra to Mapleshade, a singer-guitarist she discovered while on tour in Seattle. Shirley dug Kendra’s cabaret singer approach to jazz ballads and her clear, slightly folk-tinged voice. Stereophile calls Kendra “…the finest jazz vocalist I’ve heard in years.” Afterglow exemplifies the added intimacy our recordings capture. Close your eyes and you’ll catch a whiff of the beautiful young diva’s perfume as she bares her soul on “Almost Blue”, “Devil May Care”, “Left Alone” and more. Features Gary Bartz on alto sax. A Fi SuperDisc and a TAS SuperDisc. (#02132)

Kendra Shank, vocals
Larry Willis, piano
Steve Novosel, bass
Steve Berrios, drums/percussion



ALMOST BLUE (E.Costello) - Listen to Sample
PHOTOGRAPH (A.Jobim) - Listen to Sample
TES YEUX BEMOL duet: Shank and Willis (H.Renaud)
PARIS BOSSA* (K.Shank) - Listen to Full Song
DEVIL MAY CARE** (T.Kirk/R.Dorough)
LEFT ALONE (B.Holiday/M.Waldron)
  * Gary Bartz-Alto sax
** Steve Berrios-Drums
*** Paul Murphy-Drums






from the New Female Vocalists feature by Gene Seymour

Only one album so far, Afterglow [Mapleshade]. But the Seattle-based Shank is already showing the kind of contemplative, penetrating emotional power that, given time and a broader range of material, may win her a devoted following of romantics. Like Cole and Shirley Horn, Shank is a diligent, imaginative product of the Less-Is-More School of Balladry. Her version of Bob Dorough's Devil May Care suggests that she can swing when she chooses to. She should do more of this kind of stuff when she records again. (Soon, one hopes.)

A Sonic Sidebar by Fred Kaplan:
The best of the bunch, sonically, is Kendra Shank [Mapleshade 02132]. This is the only record where the singer seems to be right there in front of you, where you not only hear her voice but sense her entire body. The players in the band are also in the room, way back there, their notes and overtones mingling with the air around them. There's an intimacy, a liveness, that none of the other discs — that few jazz vocal records in the past couple of decades — begin to approach. And it was recorded with no artificial reverb or EQ-ing in the slightest. Let that be the lesson.

March 1996

from QuarterNotes by Wes Phillips

Kendra Shank's Afterglow is the real deal „— an outstanding debut by the finest jazz vocalist I've heard in years. Shirley Horn co-produces, and it's easy to see what she likes in Shank; the tunes range from Elvis Costello's Almost Blue to the ineffable sadness of Allary's and Renaud's Tes Yeux Bemol „— all rendered with sensitivity abetted by technique. This subtle recording complements Shank's strengths: it's understated and evocative. A real winner.

June 1995

reviewed by Wayne Saroyan

Co-producer Shirley Horn's touch is evident throughout Afterglow (Mapleshade), the debut release by the resonant young singer and guitarist Kendra Shank. The arrangements are sparse and understated, shimmering with a luminous aura across all nine of the album's tracks. On Afterglow, Shank's luxurious voice and pliant guitar are accompanied by pianist and co-producer Larry Willis and his quartet, plus a special guest appearance by alto saxophonist Gary Bartz on the singer's own composition, Paris Bossa, and the Bob Donough song There's Never Been a Day. A second Donough tune, Devil May Care (Shank toured the West Coast with the singer-pianist back in 1991), carries a light bop flavor, propelled by Willis' fluid, easy-going piano. The disc opens with a moody and mournful Elvis Costello ballad, Almost Blue, influenced by the late trumpeter Chet Baker's interpretation, and closes with an affectionate nod to Billie Holiday, whose lyrics to Left Alone caress a subtle melody written by Lady Day's last accompanist, pianist Mal Waldron.

April 1995

New York Newsday:
reviewed by Gene Seymour

Shank, a lapsed folkie from Seattle who now pledges allegiance to Billie Holiday and Shirley Horn, has the goods to go as far as her talent and imagination can take her. Blessed with intonation that can both pierce glass and caress your most vulnerable places, Shank also has an inner sense of narrative logic and a delicate, intimate relationship with rhythms, whether they pulse softly with a bossa lilt or shamble with all the indolence the blues will allow.

Along with such basic equipment, Shank is pensive, warm and unafraid to put her feelings out in front of her. She brings understated passion to all the shades of blue represented on this debut disc. She takes complete charge of Almost Blue, the Elvis Costello dirge made famous as a penultimate valedictory by the late Chet Baker. She brings deserved prominence to a little-known ballad by Bob Dorough, There's Never Been a Day, which includes a tangy, juicy sax obligato by Gary Bartz.

The liner notes quote Shank's introduction to Holiday's music: "The moment I heard her, I said, 'That's it!'" Don't be surprised if, someday soon, you have a similar reaction to Shank.

October 9, 1994

reviewed by Dennis Davis

Singer-guitarist Kendra Shank has had a lengthy apprenticeship, much of it in France (she considers Paris her second home), and has recently performed at jazz festivals and clubs around the world. Shirley Horne introduced her to Mapleshade and I'm glad she did because this is a lovely set. Mostly because she has a warm, very pure voice with plenty of expression, but also because she's sensitively backed by some fine musicians including Larry Willis (piano) and Gary Bartz (Alto sax). To add icing to what's already a pretty rich cake, Kendra clearly has an ear for a good song since the numbers here include songs by Elvis Costello, Jobim and Holiday alongside a single composition of her own, the snappy 'Paris Bossa' which holds its own in pretty distinguished company. She sounds particularly beguiling whilst singing in French as she does in 'Tes Yeaux Bernol' where she's sensitively accompanied by Willis. And to top it all Mapleshade have delivered another excellent, open, recording. Staging is excellent with plenty of depth and the whole thing is simply unfussy and natural. What are you waiting for?