Shan Kenner, The Behavior of Vibration

by Jeff Becker

Modern jazz tends to have a very muscular sound that is focused on rhythms and textures, at times some modern jazz recordings can leave the melody along the roadside, left behind for the adventure. Kenner remembers the value of strong lyrical melodies and incorporates the muscularity of modern jazz; while keeping to the sensibilities of the tune, skillfully blending the two needed elements to create a powerful sound that engages the listener.

A prime example of this premise is exhibited in “Thumbprints,” the flamenco stylings of single lines, gives Kenner an added ability that creates a depth to the experience, the acoustic nylon steel-string choice adds a nice foil to the overall group sound.  Pianist, Albert Marques exhibits a balance of attack, complexity and expressiveness that propels the track to fervor.  The arrangement sports cascading 6/8 anthems between linear straight eight sections, which gives drummer Darrel Green a vehicle to shine.

In contrast “Seventh Trine” is a swinging traditional cut inspired by Gerry Mulligan. The use of descending 7th chords blended with bright major seventh harmonies provides a blend of traditional swing, coupled with today’s language of modern jazz for a nice blending of yesterday and today’s sound.  Kenner’s lines are bold and clear, which elevates the listeners experience and proves that Kenner is a sound voice in the jazz fabric, definitely one to watch.

Overall, The Behavior of Vibration is a solid calling card for Kenner and the ensemble he has chosen to round out his ideas is a stellar example of a group sound that is focused.  This recording never sounded like a group playing down charts, it is a true team effort through and through and each player sounded invested, which lends itself to a wonderful journey from beginning to end.