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Shank, Kendra & John Stowell: New York Conversations

Kendra Shank is a jazz vocalist who started out as a folk singer before moving in a different direction. She released her debut Afterglow in 1994 and has had numerous records since. Her latest album New York Conversations has her collaborating with longtime friend, guitarist John Stowell. Stowell has been involved with the New York jazz scene for decades.

The albums fifteen tracks are a mixture of composition and improvisation starting with the Irving Berlin classic "Blue Skies". Stowell's lyrical jazz guitar and Shank's unique vocalizations, she's able to use her voice like an instrument, give this one an unusual flavour. In "Throop" Shank's voicings are in complete unison with the guitar making for another interesting listen. The duo put a unique spin on the classic medley "Hard Travelin'/Motherless Child" with its blend of sultry vocals and ethereal guitar backdrop. In the title track Shank uses loops and effects to showcase her vocals over understated acoustic guitar. It is a quirky tune including the lyrics where Shank sings the names of neighborhoods in New York. That might seem a little weird but it actually works. In "Rush Hour", one of the album's improvisational tracks, the duo play off one another with Shanks' vocals venturing into scat territory while in "Za-Zoh", another improve tune, the music has an ethereal/ambient quality.

Whenever jazz is associated with vocals the dreaded 'Las Vegas lounge singer' comes to mind but this is clearly not the case with New York Conversations. Whether this music will be for you I cannot say but one thing I can guarantee, this is a unique jazz album that showcases two talented musicians. A solid 3.5 stars.

Track Listing:
1. Blue Skies (6:16)
2. Throop (3:59)
3. Hard Travelin'/Motherless Child (5:29)
4. Rush Hour (1:25)
5. New York Conversations (4:32)
6. Ghost (3:38)
7. Silent Photographer (4:29)
8. My Romance (4:06)
9. Za-Zoh (3:59)
10. Songs & Lullabies (5:47)
11. Like Someone In Love (3:38)
12. Simple Pleasures (4:25)
13. WalkTalk (3:34)
14. I'll Be Seeing You (1:51)
15. Glad Mango (1:14)

Added: April 30th 2014
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1714
Language: english

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