Jazziz reviews Vortex:
Kenny Shanker returns with a new and exciting collection of music designed to pull the listener into a satisfying aural “vortex.” The acclaimed saxophonist sounds at the top of his game on Vortex, his third full-length outing on Wise Cat Records. Brimming with creativity, expressivity and vitality, Shanker is joined on Vortex by a lineup of longtime collaborators.
The swirling original title track, which opens the album, offers a modern take on the fabled post-bop tradition but is also peppered with more than a pinch of Afro-Cuban influence. This deep cut, upbeat and joyful, is the perfect way to open an album that testifies to the eclectic experience gathered by Shanker over the years.
Roots Music Report reviews Vortex:
Vortex follows up on Kenny Shanker’s 2021 release of Beautiful Things, a project that reached #2 on The Roots Music Report’s Top 50 Jazz Chart. With Vortex, the New York-based alto saxophonist gives us another lively set of cohesive originals and three jazz classics, each track brimming with its own charm and charisma. On Shanker’s fifth album as leader during the past decade, the musician’s heart and soul are laid out there in punchy solos, solid grooves and bright, breezy soundscapes.
Another thoroughly enjoyable listen with considerable depth of artistic expression, this album can also get you caught up in a whirling Vortex of emotion. Shanker and Co.’s music creates powerful feelings, and the intersecting crossing points between energy fields in the arrangements also impart balance, harmony and spiritual properties.
Exclusive Magazine reviews Vortex:
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.
Jazz DaGama reviews Vortex:
The alto saxophone appears to be a way of life for Kenny Shanker. It lives and breathes as if an extension of him; and the notes flow out of Mr. Shanker as if he was made almost completely of music himself.
On his 2022 recording Vortex the repertoire is representative of all of Mr. Shanker’s gifts; his highly musical intellect is clear from the original compositions, and if you are looking to see how far he will go then look no further than “Vortex” a deep, spiraling song with mighty melodic and harmonic inventions. And then there is “Midnight Snack” which is comprised of much more of the same, with a palpitating rhythmic pulse added to the song structure. Moreover, Mr. Shanker employs a magnificent aesthetic to this piece in terms of the colors and tone=-textures – overlaid by using the soprano saxophone. It is a song on which – with masterful performances – drummer Brian Fishler and bassist Yoshi Waki shine bright.
Mr. Shanker has crafted an album full of music of incredible beauty.
Midwest Record reviews Vortex:
A satisfyingly eclectic sax set. Everyone is on the same page and the joyous noise comes easily. Smart stuff.
Jazz Quad reviews Vortex:
Previously, I had only listened to American saxophonist Kenny Shanker as a sideman. And now this album, where he is not only a performer, but also a composer and band leader, is an excellent occasion to talk more about him. His first album as a leader was released in 2011 on Posi-Tone Records, and later he began to collaborate with Wise Cat Records. Vortex is his third album with this label and his fifth as a band leader.
This ten-track program includes quite dynamic pieces, like Vortex or Ramble, and more lyrical ones, like Winter Song orAutumn Leaves. As a soloist, Shanker impressed me most with his heartfelt playing and beautiful sound on his own piece, Nightfall, while second horn player and old partner Mobley was especially good on Cinnamon. In general, if Vortex becomes your first acquaintance with the work of Kenny Shanker, you will not regret it.
Michael’s Music Log reviews Vortex:
Kenny Shanker’s work on saxophone is beautiful and engaging.
The Jazz Word reviews Beautiful Things:
An inventive and imaginative set of music. Shanker’s jazz language is filled with post-bop harmonic devices of upper structure triads, pentatonics, and chordal superimpositions. Beautiful Things has a beautiful balance of feels, styles, and intensities through a flowing set of originals and arrangements of standards. Shanker’s compositions are memorable, and throughout the album, there is plenty of space for the soloists. The album boasts an inventive and imaginative set presented by an ensemble that exudes authority and refinement from the jazz landscape.
Jazz Da Gama reviews Beautiful Things:
With the album entitled Beautiful Things, Shanker records a series of standards and originals showing craftsmanship of extraordinary breadth and nobility. The entire set captures the magic of classic songs and Mr. Shanker’s exquisite originals.
Raul De Gama
The Sentinel reviews Restless:
A great album by any measure, Restless is incredible as a debut. Jackson Potter can write and arrange and compose with the best of them. This guy has a home and a future in Jazz.
Travis Rogers Jr.
Part Time Audiophile – The Vinyl Anachronist reviews Restless:
Potter is simply amazing in terms of checking all the boxes so early in his career. Keep an eye on this young man–he’s an old soul with the energy of a young man, and the result is superb.
Exclusive Magazine reviews Restless:
Jackson has just released a stunning debut album, the quite brilliant Restless. One of my own personal favorites here on this beautiful new album, the ornately sculptured foot-tapper Amalfi which is in turn followed by the sweepingly elegant Peace, the album rounding out on the cutely entitled, and lushly sophisticated Hindsight Is 2020, closing on the guitar-led feistiness of the upbeat title track Restless.
Russell A. Trunk
Jazz Weekly reviews Restless:
Clean toned guitarist Jackson Potter carries the swinging mainstream strings of the likes of Herb Ellis on this hip collection of mostly originals.
George W. Harris
Midwest Record reviews Restless:
A real jazzbo to the core that studied and gigged hard right out of the gate, his guitar date can stand up to any established set by any established player. While it should crackle with the enthusiasm of an auspicious debut, it glides with the surety of a polished pro instead. Loaded with originals, he's issued the kind of sound that got you into jazz in the first place. Killer stuff.