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New York Jazz vocalist Kendra Shank had a triumphant return to San Diego. The Point Loma High grad has several well-received and critically acclaimed releases under her belt — namely Mosaic and Spirit Free: The Abbey Lincoln Songbook. She's got a lithe, nuanced alto voice that she uses with great control. Ms. Shank doesn't come off with that "star" attitude that some singers do. She places herself as an instrumentalist among her band mates, and she's very generous with the solo space.

Which was wise, considering the incredible West Coast quartet she assembled. Pianist Bill Cunliffe is one the most in-demand musicians in L.A., and it's easy to see why: his touch is sparkling, and ideas cascade out of him like a fountain. Bassist Hamilton Price has it all: huge sound, great intonation, and breathtaking solos. Twenty-five-year-old percussionist Zach Harmon plays drums and tablas simultaneously!

Shank is a true improviser and risk taker. The concert began with "All of You" and continued with some wild vocalizations on "Incantation." Truly superb was her adaptation of "Blue Skies" and swinging take on "Beautiful Love."

  • Concert: Kendra Shank Quartet
  • Date: July 20
  • Venue: Saville Theater, San Diego City College
  • Seats: general admission
  • Photo: John Abbott
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