Kendra Shank

A Spirit Free

by Steve Horowitz

25 February 2007

 

Kendra Shank doesn’t sing Abbey Lincoln’s songs as much as Shank inhabits them. The younger vocalist understands the angularity of Lincoln’s material from the inside. These tunes convey the deep emotions and spiritual nuances of a woman who has a strong heart and a keen mind. She feels what is going on, but she also reflectively studies her thoughts and feelings. Shank offers her transcendental vision of a life well-lived through Lincoln on terrific tracks like “Incantation/Throw it Away”, which suggests that the only things in life worth treasuring are the ones a person freely tosses out—like unconditional love. Shank doesn’t sing in the forefront as much as she weaves her voice into jazz mix that includes primo pianist Frank Kimbrough, the fastidious drumming of Tony Merono, and Billy Drewes’ sensitive soprano and tenor sax playing. The band takes Lincoln’s compositions on a road test, and Shank shows that other interpreters can make the songs motor on happily.

A Spirit Free: Abbey Lincoln Songbook

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