Kendra Shank

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Kendra Shank : mosaic

Kendra Shank’s crystal-pure tone, powerful musicianship and elastic phrasing have won her rave criticalnotices and fans internationally. Considered "one of the most innovative of present-day jazz vocalists" (Drew Wheeler, CDNow) and "one of the top jazz singers around today" (Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene), she headlines in major clubs and festivals across the U.S. and abroad, captivating audiences with her genuine warmth, emotional depth, and musicality.

Originally a folk/pop singer/guitarist based in Seattle, Kendra Shank comes to performance naturally. Born in California to a playwright father and actress mother, Kendra was acting in plays at age 5, picked up the guitar at 13, and at 19 began her professional music career. Jazz, however, came later. During a 1988 residency in Paris, the influence of jazz artists grew, especially Billie Holiday. In 1989 Shank began studying with jazz vocalist Jay Clayton in Seattle, while keeping dual residency in Paris where she gigged in jazz clubs. 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.

Kendra ShankMs. Shank relocated to New York in 1997 and recorded two albums for Jazz Focus Records, Wish (1998) and Reflections (2000), which charted on jazz radio and won Top Ten 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 Gary Giddins to call her "one of New York's most original
performers." (Jazz Times)

In addition to her recordings as a leader, Kendra 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 and Bud Shank. 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. Shank’s current group, formed in 1999 and featured on her Reflections CD, includes pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Dean Johnson, and
drummer Tony Moreno. This ensemble, in which Shank focuses on improvisational group interplay, is also featured on her newest album, A Spirit Free: Abbey Lincoln Songbook (Challenge Records, 2007; U.S. distribution by Allegro). The CD also includes special guests Billy Drewes (tenor & soprano sax, bass clarinet, percussion), Ben Monder (guitar) and Gary Versace (accordion).

New for 2013-14 - Kendra Shank/John Stowell Duo

Vocalist Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell have been having musical conversations for over a decade. Their highly personal, interactive and original sound infuses a mix of standards, bossa novas, sambas, folk songs, modern jazz compositions and original material. Shank sometimes takes an instrumental role, coloring her voice with electronic effects and live looping to create wordless, layered textures upon which Stowell weaves sensuous, harmonically inventive guitar lines. Stowell's 40-year career includes performances with Lionel Hampton, Art Farmer, Tom Harrell, David Liebman, Larry Coryell, David Friesen and many others, with festival appearances at Monterey, Saratoga, Telluride, Berlin, Molde, Montreal, and more.  Kendra Shank and John Stowell each have established their own voice, and when they combine, the synergy is compelling.

Kendra is joined by these wonderful musicians on all other non-duo dates…


Pianist Frank Kimbrough has played with Kendra since they were introduced by Shirley Horn in 1993. He is currently a Palmetto Records recording artist, with previous CDs as a leader on OmniTone, Soul Note, and Mapleshade. In addition to leading his own critically acclaimed trio, he has played with the Maria Schneider
Orchestra, Dewey Redman, Ben Allison, Joe Locke, and Ted Nash, among others. Frank was a founding member and composer-in-residence of the Jazz Composers Collective (1992 - 2005). His work has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and from Chamber Music America’s
Doris Duke Jazz Ensembles Project.

Since arriving in New York from Seattle, Washington in 1980, bassist Dean Johnson has been busy free lancing with a wide variety of artists including his 10 year association with Gerry Mulligan. Some of the eclectic array of artists Dean has been and continues to be involved with include Bob Brookmeyer, Randy Brecker, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Art Lande, Dave Douglas, Lee Konitz, Nguyen Le, Steve Kuhn, Wynton Marsalis, The New York Voices, Jackie and Roy, Roseanna Vitro, Kendra Shank, and many others. Dean has also appeared on over 50 recordings with a variety of artists.

Drummer/composer Tony Moreno has recently performed and/or recorded with Dave Phillips and Freedance, Marc Mommaas and Global Motion, Jurgen Friedrich Trio – and Quartet with Dave Liebman, Kendra Shank Quartet, Roberto Bonati and the European Jazz Orchestra- ParmaFrontiere Jazz, “Tribute to Elvin Jones” with Larry Willis, Eddie Henderson, Frank Lacy, Miguel-Angel Chastang and Sonny Fortune; Ole Mathiessen Quartet, Timucin Sahin-Greg Osby Quartet, Bruce Arnold Trio, Jean Michel Pilc Trio, Spooky Actions, Art Lande, Fred Favarel Quartet with Richie Bierach and many others. DVD’s include: The Lounge Lizards “Live in Tokyo” and Spooky Actions “Live in Moscow”. Tony teaches in the Jazz Studies Program at New York University and Columbia University, and endorses Paiste Cymbals and LeSoprano Drums. Tony has also composed music for film and dance, as well as having recently published a new text: “Rhythmic Studies for all Instruments.”