BMAN’S BLUES REPORT
Kenny Shanker, Vortex
I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Vortex, by Kenny Shanker and it’s a cool bop filled ride. Opening with the title track, Vortex, Mike Eckroth sets the tone with a piano intro and progressive melody, dashed up with Yoshi Waki on bass and Brian Fishler on drums. Kenny Shanker takes the lead on sax with aggressive style taking the track quite a bit higher and then hands off to guitar man Daisuke Abe who crafts a really nice fluid lead line of his own, resolving with Bill Mobley on trumpet for a solid close. Lulu’s Back In Town has a laid back feel with Shanker setting up the tune, and Abe and Eckroth each adding very nice solo blocks for a really nice track. Hunter steps up the feel a bit with an aggressive rhythm and the over the top attack that I’m coming to expect from Shanker. Abe and Eckroth both stretch nicely before returning to Shanker for a solid conclusion. Dave Brubeck’s classic, The Duke is in line and Shanker and Eckroth lay down the intro before Shanker really starts to groove over the solid bottom of Waki and Fishler. Accepting the challenge and continuing the feel, Eckroth and Abe each lay down really nice alt melody lines. This is a really super take on a terrific track. Abe really shines on Midnight Snack with a vibrant attack and clean fluid lines. Shanker on soprano rides the wave with intention and fierce riffs of his own before passing to Eckroth who finds a solid groove of his own. Strong. Wrapping the releases is Johnny Mercer’s Autumn Leaves. Shanker sets a firm pace, establishing the traditional melody. Abe solos the first leg masterfully with a strong bass line by Waki. When Shanker rejoins, he starts the abstraction and propels the track to another level with Abe holding the melody line tight. This is really a solid closer for a really nice release.