Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Lived in Davis, CA until her parents' divorce in 1966 when she and her mother (b. Patricia Currier, 1930 in New York, NY) moved to San Diego, CA. Kendra remained in San Diego through high school, with the exception of one academic year (1967 - 1968) in Davis, CA with her father (b. Theodore Shank, 1929 in Brawley, CA) and step-mother (b. Adele Edling, 1940 in Litchfield, MN). She has one brother (b. Stan, 1955 in Fort Ord, CA).
From the ages of 5 through 8, Kendra acted in plays at the Davis Community Theatre and at the University of California Davis, where her father, a playwright and author, taught playwrighting. Her mother was a singer and actress (she appeared in Our Gang comedies and Hollywood films as a child) who later taught junior high school Drama, Speech and English. Kendra's step-mother is also an award- winning playwright and teaches at UC San Diego.Kendra briefly took piano lessons at age 8, and studied oboe for one year at age 10, playing in her elementary-school orchestra. From the age of 11, she sang in church groups and, at 13, inspired by her brother's guitar playing, she took up the guitar with enthusiasm, taking lessons for 6 months with Bob LeBeau and then continuing on self-taught. In her formal schooling, however, she focused on two other passions: Art (she had practiced visual arts from the age of 7 and studied with a master ceramicist at age 12) and French (she studied at the Alliance Francaise in Paris in 1975 and was fluent at age 19).
During her freshman year of college (Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA) she sang and played guitar at open mikes on campus and at age 19, while in Paris, France, performed in the subway and sidewalk cafes for tips. On her return to the States she began gigging in bars and restaurants as a solo act and continued her part-time music career through college, receiving her BA from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1982 (double BA in Art and French, magna cum laude). Upon graduation, she went into performing music full time, establishing herself on the folk/pop scene in Seattle, WA and touring colleges on the west coast, with occasional stints as a French "chanteuse" in various French restaurants.
Inspired by the music of Billie Holiday, Kendra made her first exploration into jazz at the 1982 Bud Shank Jazz Workshop in Port Townsend, WA, where she studied with vocalist Jane Lambert. (Bud Shank may possibly be a distant relation, but is obviously not her father, as has sometimes been printed.) It wasn't until 1989, however, that she lost all interest in the music she had previously been playing and devoted herself completely to jazz. She studied with vocalist Jay Clayton (a primary influence and mentor) at Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle, WA) for one semester as a non- matriculated student and then continued to attend Clayton workshops, while transforming her folk/pop gigs into jazz gigs. She began spending half of each year in Paris, honing her skills on the club scene there, accompanied by pianists Alain Jean-Marie and Laurent de Wilde and championed by radio journalist Maurice Cullaz. In Seattle, she formed a Brazilian-flavored trio called "Zero Gravity" (1990) in which she sang and played guitar with fellow guitarist Klaus Lendzian and drummer/percussionist Luis Peralta (formerly with Dizzy Gillespie). She also formed a Seattle quintet with John Hansen (p), Jeff Johnson (b), Dean Hodges (dr) and Hans Teuber (alto, sop, tenor saxes & flute), playing in festivals and clubs.
Kendra's jazz career blossomed quickly, focusing primarily on her vocal instrument, and in 1991 she was hired by Bob Dorough as vocalist/guitarist/percussionist for his west coast tour. She soon caught the attention of jazz legend Shirley Horn who, in 1992, co- produced Kendra's debut compact disc. Horn also invited Kendra to perform as her guest at the Village Vanguard in New York City in 1982. Ms. Shank relocated to New York in 1997 and recorded two albums for Jazz Focus Records. Kendra has also played with a host of other jazz greats, including: pianists Fred Hersch, Bruce Barth, Mark Soskin, Gary Versace, Kenny Werner; guitarists John Hart, Ben Monder, John Stowell; bassists Scott Colley, Ben Allison, Ed Schuller, Drew Gress; drummers Victor Lewis, Billy Hart, Vernel Fournier, Tom Rainey; saxophonists Billy Drewes, Donny McCaslin, David Binney, Michael Blake, Tony Malaby; trombonist Jimmy Knepper; vibist Joe Locke; vocalist Jay Clayton; among many others. She has taken workshops with vocalists Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan and Rhiannon and lessons with guitarist Ralph Towner and has, herself, taught vocal clinics at various schools and festivals, including the Jazz In Marciac Festival (France) and the Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory of Music.In 2000, Kendra played with Abbey Lincoln for a week at The Blue Note Jazz Club. Kendra tours internationally, with appearances that include The Blue Note, Birdland, Iridium, Jazz Standard, Sweet Rhythm (New York City); Blues Alley (Washington, DC); Scullers, Regatta Bar (Boston); The Green Mill (Chicago); The Dakota (Minneapolis); Jazz Alley (Seattle); Kimball's (San Francisco); Jazz Bakery (Los Angeles); Jazz a Vienne Festival, Jazz in Marciac Festival, Duc des Lombards (France); Edmonton Jazz Festival, Calgary Jazz Festival (Canada); Pitt Inn, Body and Soul (Japan); Green Dolphin, Jazz at the Nassau (South Africa); among many others.
She has been featured on National Public Radio's JazzSet (2001, 2002) and Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland (2003) and was recognized among "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" by the Down Beat International Critics Poll (1999). Shank's CD Wish was named a "Top Ten Album" in Jazziz (1999), and her Reflections CD made the "Top Ten List" of Newsday and The Boston Globe (2000).
For many years Kendra has had a penchant for non-standard song material, performing and recording compositions by Renee Rosnes, Red Mitchell, Bob Dorough, Frank Kimbrough, Kirk Nurock, Henri Renaud, Jeff Johnson, and others. She is currently working on a recording project which will be a collection of songs composed by one of her mentors,
Victory Music Revue Vol. 1 (1986); Afterglow, with the Larry Willis Quartet plus Gary Bartz (1994, recorded 1992); Wish (1998); Reflections (2000)
Jim Pepper/Claudine Francois Trio: Camargue (1989); Randy Halberstadt: Clockwork (1995); Peter Leitch: Blues on the Corner (2000); Abbey Lincoln: Over the Years (2000)
Radio and television broadcasts:
TV: The Art Popham Show, KTPS-28, Tacoma, WA (1989); TV: Ruth's Music Corner, KCCP-TV, Kansas City, MO (1995); "Transcontinentales", Radio France/France Culture, live performance with Alain Jean-Marie Trio (1994); "Around New York", WNYC-fm, live performance (1996); "JazzSet with Branford Marsalis", National Public Radio (2001); "JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater", National Public Radio (2002); "Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland", National Public Radio (2003); "Soundcheck", WNYC- fm, live performance (2003); Numerous radio interviews across the U.S. and in France (including WBGO-fm, WKCR-fm, WBAI-fm, KPBS-fm, KPLU-fm, KCSM-fm, many others)Unissued recordings and videos:
Live at "Jazz at the Nassau", Cape Town, South Africa (2004); Live at "The Dakota", Minneapolis (2004); Live At Iridium Jazz Club, NYC (2001); one song is edited on video (2 cameras) and broadcast-ready; Live At Seattle Art Museum (2001); studio session with Frank Kimbrough (p) (2000); Live At The Flea Theatre, NYC (1999); studio session with Miles Black (p), Rick Kilburn (b) (ca. 1997); studio session with Seattle quartet (1996); Live At Speakeasy, Seattle (1996); Live At Jazz Alley, Seattle (1996 & 1994); studio session with Randy Porter (p), Jeff Johnson (b) (ca. 1994); Live At Vienne Festival, France (1994), recorded by Radio France; Live At Jazz Is Toulon Festival, France (1994); video: Live At Blue Note Jazz Club, NYC (1998); -about 1500 hours of private tapes & MDs (not professionally recorded) of gigs/concerts (from 1985 on)
"Former Folkie Finds New Career in Jazz", by Jeff Korbelik, Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, NE), June 4, 2004, p. 16.
"Jazz Vocalist Sings to Tune of Conversation", by Tessa Jeffers, Daily Nebraskan (Lincoln, NE), June 8, 2004, p. 2.
"Kendra Shank a Storytelling Songstress", by Robin James, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, June 17-23, 2004, p.11.
"Wish: Kendra Shank", by Terry Teachout, TIME, November 23, 1998, p. 114.
Pure Tones Deep Meanings--Kendra Shank Deserves Some Prime Time by Will Friedwald Village Voice, June 4 - 10, 2003
"Kendra Shank: Jazz Pick of the Week", by Brandt Reiter, L.A. Weekly, September 21 - 27, 2001.
"Kendra Shank Worth The Wait," by Bob Blumenthal, The Boston Globe, March 21, 2001.
"She's Making Jazz The Organic Way", by Bob Blumenthal, The Boston Globe, March 2, 2001, D16.
"The Year's Best In Jazz", by Gene Seymour, Newsday (New York), December 31, 2000.
"Leading Ladies" by Barry Bassis, New York Resident, December 5, 2000.
"Some Voices That Are Making Noise", by Gene Seymour, Newsday (New York), October 22, 2000.
"Women Vocalists Take Fresh Approaches", by George Kanzler, Newark StarLedger, October 8, 2000.
"Kendra Shank", by Serge Baudot & Michel Bedin, Jazz Hot (France), October 2000.
"Jazz Gumption" by Ted Panken, Down Beat, July 2000.
"Kendra Shank: Grandes Talentos", by Don Hillegas, Cuandernos de Jazz (Spain), May/June 2000, pp. 32 - 37.
"Kendra Shank, Coming Through Soft & Clear", by Marc Fisher, The Washington Post, March 9, 2000.
"Kendra Shank" (Live At Birdland gig review), by Robert L. Daniels, Variety (New York), December 27, 1999.
"You Won't Be Asking 'Kendra Who?' For Long", by Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times, November 22, 1999.
"The Jazz World's Ladies in Waiting", by Terry Teachout, The Washington Post, November 7, 1999.
"Kendra Shank: Critic's Choice", by Neil Tesser, Chicago Reader, July 2, 1999.
"Shank explores folk roots in jazz", by Scott Lingley, SEE Magazine (Edmonton, AB, Canada), July 1 - 7, 1999.
"New Voice on the Horizon", by Scott Yanow, Jazz Now, June 1999.
"Kendra Shank leaves folk behind for her new love, jazz", by Andrew Gilbert, The San Diego Union Tribune, May 13, 1999.
"Kendra Shank's fruitful personal, musical journeys", by Jon Matsumoto, San Jose Mercury News, April 23, 1999.
"Kendra Shank" in "Nightstick" column by Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles New Times, April 15, 1999.
"Vocalist blossoms in transition to jazz", by Paul de Barros, The Seattle Times, April 8, 1999.
"'Wish'-ing Well", by Jason West, Seattle Weekly, April 8, 1999.
"Artist Profile: Kendra Shank", by Keith Zimmerman, Gavin, February 5, 1999, p. 47.
"Songstress pays tribute to the classics", by Chip Deffaa, New York Post, December 24, 1998.
"Kendra Shank: Spiraling up to success", by Clarence Atkins, New York Amsterdam News, December 10 - 16, 1998.
"Shedding folk roots for a new language of jazz", by Robert Hicks, The Villager (New York), December 9, 1998.
"Check out star while she's rising", by Renee Doruyter, The Province (Vancouver, BC, Canada), February 20, 1997.
"Shank and Mandyck join forces for hot night of jazz", by Don Adair, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), October 3, 1996.
"Basking in 'Afterglow'", by Calvin Wilson, Kansas City Star, May 29, 1996, F4.
"Kendra Shank: une voix qui apporte l'aurore", by Serge Baudot, Evasion Mag (France), September/October, 1994.
"San Diego Spotlight", by Dirk Sutro, Los Angeles Times (San Diego County edition), December 17, 1991, F2.
The Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Guide, 1999, John Swenson.
All Music Guide to Jazz, 3rd Edition, 1998, Scott Yanow.
The Gramophone Jazz Good CD Guide, 1995, Keith Shadwick.
"Top Ten List", Bob Blumenthal, The Boston Globe, Dec. 10, 2000 (Reflections CD).
"Top Ten List", Gene Seymour, Newsday (New York), December 31, 2000 (Reflections CD).
"1999 Top Ten Critics Pick", Scott Yanow, Jazziz, March 2000 (Wish CD).
5-star (highest) rating awarded to Wish CD in The Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Guide, 1999.
"Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" runner-up, Down Beat International Critics Poll, 1999.
Grant recipient: "The Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions" by Arts International, September 2000.
(posted July 15, 2004)
(posted Dec. 27, 2002)
"Kendra Shank Transcends Musical Genres On 'Reflections'", by Paula Edelstein, SoundsOfTimelessJazz.com, April 2002.
"Kendra Shank: New Voice To Watch Out For", by John Stevenson, EJAZZNEWS.COM, November 28, 2001.
Blindfold test by Alain Le Roux; le jazz (defunct website) October 1997