Thursday, November 03, 2016

Jazz Vocalist KENDRA SHANK and Pianist GEOFFREY KEEZER team up for "HALF MOON"

Kendra Shank and Geoffrey Keezer's musical association began in 2008 at the Athenaeum jazz series in San Diego, CA when a cancelled flight prevented Shank's New York pianist from making the gig. With just 30 minutes to rehearse, Keezer stepped in with a seamless performance and instant chemistry with Shank that inspired a standing ovation. Kendra called on Geoffrey's trio for subsequent West Coast tours and their musical connection deepened.

In January 2015, while Geoffrey was in Manhattan on an engagement with Chris Botti, he and Kendra performed an afternoon concert at a friend's home. The intimate duo setting provided the pianist and vocalist unlimited freedom to create spontaneously in the moment, taking the enthusiastic audience on a magical journey that was captured on this Ride Symbol recording.

The title song "Half Moon," inspired by a lamp hanging over the piano, was completely improvised and reveals Shank at her most vulnerable. Keezer's 88-key orchestra of harmonic and rhythmic virtuosity and Shank's exotic wordless vocalizations are highlighted in Cedar Walton's "Life's Mosaic," while the duo's lyricism shines in this first-ever recording of Jeremy Siskind's "Kneel" (winner of ASCAP's Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award). The chart for "When Love Was You and Me" (Abbey Lincoln/Thad Jones) was given to Kendra in 1994 by her mentor Abbey Lincoln when Kendra visited her Upper West Side apartment -- coincidentally in the same building where this concert took place.

Throughout this diverse and inspired set, Shank and Keezer embody the playful inventiveness of making music as interactive partners, transcending the singer-accompanist mold. "Each time we collaborate brings joyful exploration and new musical discoveries," says Keezer in the liner notes. The album's executive producer, Donald Elfman, writes: "What a pleasure it is to hear jazz musicians who fully savor every moment: sharing their experience of creating, listening and playing off each other, and still improvising in individual voices."

GEOFFREY KEEZER  With his highly regarded discography, unique compositions, and acclaimed performances in a variety of configurations, Grammy-nominated pianist Geoffrey Keezer commands the attention typically reserved for the living legends of jazz. Whether recording with jazz vocalists Diana Krall or Dianne Reeves, touring with trumpet king Chris Botti, or collaborating with pop icon Sting, sax legend Wayne Shorter, guitar wizard Jim Hall, star bassist Christian McBride or vibes master Joe Locke, Geoffrey "has more than enough virtuosity and sheer musical wit and intelligence to weave all of his apparently disparate strands of influence into an original and compelling whole" (Time magazine). His recent release, Heart of the Piano (2013, Motema Records), redefines solo jazz piano as a personal and interactive showcase of melody, energy and groove. Geoffrey Keezer's singular style of intellectually abstract lyricism woven over exotically complex rhythms and harmonies makes him one of the most sought-after artists on the modern jazz scene.

KENDRA SHANK  Since her 1992 debut at the Village Vanguard with Shirley Horn, Kendra Shank has become a mainstay on New York's jazz scene, has toured in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Canada and the U.S., and has appeared on NPR's JazzSet and Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. Her seven critically acclaimed CDs have garnered numerous “Best of the Year” citations and DownBeat poll recognition, with accolades for her "delectable voice" (Time magazine) and "breathtakingly original concept" (Boston Globe). In addition to leading her NY quartet of 16 years with Frank Kimbrough, Dean Johnson, and Tony Moreno, Shank co-leads a duo with guitarist John Stowell and has performed and/or recorded with Abbey Lincoln, Fred Hersch, Larry Willis, Joe Locke, Jay Clayton, Bob Dorough, Gary Bartz, Steve Wilson, Victor Lewis, Matt Wilson, Ben Monder and many more. Kendra Shank mixes modern jazz, standards, world music, folk/pop, and open improvisation, all unified by her soulful storytelling, inventive phrasing, and spontaneous group interplay.

1.  Alone Together  6:48 (Howard Dietz / Arthur Schwartz)
2.  The Music is the Magic  7:33 (Abbey Lincoln)
3.  Kneel  8:38 (Jeremy Siskind)
4.  Song of Life  4:58 (Norma Winstone / Fred Hersch)
5.  Half Moon  4:44 (words: K. Shank / music: G. Keezer, K. Shank)
6.  Life's Mosaic  7:31 (John & Paula Hackett / Cedar Walton)
7.  When Love Was You and Me  5:02 (Abbey Lincoln / Thad Jones)
8.  I'm Movin' On  4:52 (Judy Niemack / Kirk Nurock)
9.  Healing Song  4:33 (words: K. Shank / music: K. Shank, G. Keezer)
10.  You Are There  5:58 (Dave Frishberg / Johnny Mandel)
11.  A Weaver Of Dreams  6:08 (Jack Elliott / Victor Young)

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