by Anne Carlini
|Title – Vortex
Artist – Kenny Shanker
For those not in the know, Kenny Shanker is back with an exciting collection of original compositions and jazz standards for his third release on Wise Cat Records, Vortex.
Kenny Shanker is a saxophonist, pianist, and award-winning composer. He put out his first album, Steppin’ Up, in 2011 for Posi-Tone Records, and it was hailed as “immediately enjoyable, with enough twists and turns to reward repeated listening” by Bruce Lindsay of All About Jazz.
In 2014, he released Action City, his second album for Posi-Tone. Bop and Jazz called it “ridiculously good,” and The Jazz Page called it “an outstanding exposition of the writing chops that won the California native an ASCAP award for composition in recent years.”
In 2017, Kenny released his third recording, The Witching Hour, for Wise Cat Records, which Jazz Weekly called an “impressive foray.” In 2021, Shanker released Beautiful Things, which reached #2 on the RMR Top 50 Jazz Chart.
We here at Exclusive Magazine called it a “stunning musical adventure,” and Audiophile Review said, “Beautiful Things is exactly that – beautiful.”
1. Vortex (5:47)
2. Lulu’s Back in Town (4:51)
3. Winter Song (5:33)
4. Hunter (5:57)
5. Ramble (7:04)
6. Nightfall (5:45)
7. The Duke (5:06)
8. Cinnamon (5:25)
9. Midnight Snack (5:32)
10. Autumn Leaves (4:47)
This magical, dedicatedly composed new album opens on the gently fervent and cultured title track Vortex and the Fats Waller track Lulu’s Back in Town, and then backs those up seamlessly with the quiet intensity of falling snow in the idyllic Winter Song, the thrill of a chase and the raw energy of Hunter, and then he brings us the finger-snapping, laid-back stroll of Ramble.
Next up is the dulcetly yearning, augmented magnificence of Nightfall which is itself followed by a cover of The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s dreamy The Duke, then comes the upbeat and calmly perky Cinnamon, the album rounding out on the active strains of Midnight Snack, closing on the Joseph Kosma (and later Johnny Mercer) standard, Autumn Leaves.
Kenny is joined by his longtime rhythm section of Mike Eckroth, Daisuke Abe, Yoshi Waki, and Brian Fishler, along with Bill Mobley on trumpet. Kenny has performed with the New World Symphony, Richard Bona, David Benoit, Lage Lund, Taylor Eigsti, Bill Mobley, Shelly Berg, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Coalescence, and many others.
Locally, he has performed at Carnegie Hall, Birdland, Dizzy’s Club, Smoke, Smalls, Fat Cat, Jazz at Kitano, Queens Jazz Festival, The Garage, Rockwood Music Hall, and The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center. He currently resides in New York City.
PLAYERS & INSTRUMENTS:
Kenny Shanker – Alto Saxophone; Soprano Saxophone (9)Bill Mobley – Trumpet (1, 5, 8)
Daisuke Abe – Guitar
Mike Eckroth – Piano
Yoshi Waki – Bass
Brian Fishler – Drums