Album Review: Beautiful Things from Kenny Shanker
Artist: Kenny Shanker
Label: Wise Cat Records
In the vane of a true bop artist, saxophonist Kenny Shanker explores his assets, the nimbleness of his raptures, the sharpness in his playing to accelerate or slow down the dialogue, and the clarity of his movements. The program on his new CD Beautiful Things features both his originals and covers of jazz classics, applying his instinct for layering voices and entangling sequences.
The torchlight countenance of “It Never Entered My Mind,” penned by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, features Shanker’s saxophone toots forming a weave of dreamy patterns layered in the creamy passages of Daisuke Abe’s guitar and the smoldering embers of Mike Eckroth’s piano keys. Brian Fishler’s rustling drum strikes produce a steady base for “Mirth” as Shanker’s sax soars and billows with wild abandonment, withdrawing when Bill Mobley’s trumpet takes centerstage. Horns and guitar build into a harmonious entanglement.
“L’Impossible,” a pensive piece by Oscar Peterson, is trussed in an enchanting soliloquy expressed by the fluctuating movements of Shanker’s sax. His freestyle musings are bold and searing on his original contribution “Orange and Gray,” whipping up a rapturous frenzy through “Prestissimo,” another original by Shanker.
The spontaneity that Shanker exhibits in his playing shows command of his saxophone paired with instincts that can sketch enchanting soliloquies and searing patterns penned in freehand. Still budding as a modern jazz talent, Shanker promises his signature style and trademark has more growth to come.
Kenny Shanker – alto saxophone
Bill Mobley – trumpet
Daisuke Abe – guitar
Mike Eckroth – piano
Yoshi Waki – bass
Brian Fishler – drums