by Russell Trunk
| Title – Beautiful Things
Artist – Kenny Shanker
For those unaware, Kenny Shanker is back with an exciting program of original compositions and jazz standards on Beautiful Things (out August 20th, 2021), his second release on Wise Cat Records.The common element that appears throughout this wildly diverse set is a search for beauty in all of its various forms.
Some highlights include the blazingly fast Prestissimo, inspired by the early bebop recordings that Shanker grew up listening to, and the catchy, spirited original composition Cool Mint.
Other standouts include straight-ahead renditions of several jazz classics, the spontaneous freedom of Orange and Gray, and the classically influenced title track Beautiful Things.
He is joined by his longtime rhythm section of Mike Eckroth, Daisuke Abe, Yoshi Waki, and Brian Fishler, along with Bill Mobley on Trumpet.
1. Cool Mint (4:46)
This quite stunning musical adventure opens on the melodic, finger-snapping trip of Cool Mint and the gently frenetic Prestissimo, backing those up with the ornate beauty of It Never Entered My Mind, the perfectly entitled Mirth, and then both the mid-tempo, toe-tapping vibe of Oscar Peterson’s L’Impossible and the stout, yet flexible orchestrations of Orange and Gray.
Next up is the free flowing majesty of Without a Song and the Johnny Mercer co-written hipsway magnificence of I’m Old Fashioned, the perky Oscar Hammerstein II co-written escapade Softly as in a Morning Sunrise, the album rounding out on the delicately layered wonderment of Like Someone in Love, their upbeat rendition of Thelonious Monk’s In Walked Bud, closing on the luscious tranquility of the title track, Beautiful Things.
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.