Her jazz career blossomed quickly and in 1991 she was hired by Bob Dorough as vocalist/guitarist/percussionist for his U.S. west coast tour. She soon caught the attention of jazz legend Shirley Horn, who co-produced Shank's critically-acclaimed debut compact disc, Afterglow (Mapleshade, 1994), featuring pianist Larry Willis and saxophonist Gary Bartz, and invited Kendra to perform as her guest at the Village Vanguard in New York. Ms. Shank relocated to New York in 1997 and recorded two albums for Jazz Focus Records, Wish (1998) and Reflections (2000), which climbed the jazz radio charts and won "Top Ten Album of the Year" awards in Jazziz, Newsday, and The Boston Globe.
"This vocalist makes lyrics believable, invents like an instrumentalist, and has an ear second to none for little-known and unknown tunes," wrote the Globe's Bob Blumenthal. Shank combines jazz originals, standards, French songs, folk/pop tunes, and open improvisation in an adventurous, genre-bending style that inspired Abbey Lincoln to call her "an original; a singer with a sound." Kendra Shank's current group, formed in 1999 and featured on her Reflections CD, includes pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Dean Johnson, and drummer Tony Moreno. Functioning as a member of the ensemble, as opposed to a singer fronting a band, Shank focuses on improvisational group interplay, creating "...a practically telepathic integration...these four people appear to have emerged from the same womb" (Lawrence Brazier, Jazz Now). This ensemble is also featured on her newest album, A Spirit Free: Abbey Lincoln Songbook, which will be released by Challenge Records in February 2007 and includes special guests Billy Drewes (tenor & soprano sax, bass clarinet, percussion), Ben Monder (guitar), and Gary Versace (accordion). In addition to her recordings as a leader, Shank was guest guitarist on Abbey Lincoln's CD Over The Years (Verve), sang vocalise lines on Peter Leitch's Blues On the Corner CD (Reservoir), and has performed live with Jay Clayton.
She has been featured on National Public Radio's JazzSet and Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland, and was recognized among "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" in the 1999 Down Beat International Critics Poll. Kendra Shank has headlined at clubs and festivals internationally, including: Blue Note, Birdland, Iridium, Jazz Standard, JVC Jazz Festival (New York); Blues Alley (Washington, D.C.); Scullers, Regatta Bar (Boston); Jazz Bakery (Los Angeles); Kimball's East (Emeryville, CA - Bay Area); Jazz Alley (Seattle); The Green Mill (Chicago); The Dakota (Minneapolis); Body & Soul (Tokyo); Duc des Lombards, Jazz in Marciac Festival, Jazz à Vienne Festival (France); and the Edmonton and Calgary Jazz Festivals in Canada. She has taught clinics at Jazz in Marciac Festival, University of North Carolina-Asheville, The New School (New York City), and Brooklyn/Queens Conservatory of Music (New York City). Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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