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Frank Kimbrough

Review By Jim Luce
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Frank Kimbrough Lullabluebye

CD Number: Palmetto Records PM 2100


  It was a beautiful spring day in midtown Manhattan, and even the birds were making music. When Frank Kimbrough arrived, the conditions were right for a beautiful listening session. The vacuum tubes were glowing and the Sakura Imperial Japanese tea was brewed, so we got right into some serious music and philosophy.

"I started playing piano as early as it gets Ė age 3 or 4. I thought everybody played piano! My mother taught piano, and so did my grandmother. I never thought of myself as anything but a musician. I never had other aspirations... it was my primary interest even before starting elementary school."

In a world filled with change, a lifetime dedicated to one thing is impressive indeed. For pianist Frank Kimbrough, it has provided stellar results. For over a decade, he has been considered one of New York's "rising stars" in the field of jazz piano, but as far as Iím concerned, heís already arrived. From the first notes of his new CD: Lullabluebye (Palmetto PM 2100), it is obvious that his voice is strong, expressive and well-developed.


Kimbrough can swing with the best. You can hear evidence of that on his work with the Herbie Nichols Project1 -- a band conceived to perform modern interpretations of the compositions of the obscure late pianist. But for his own trio, he often prefers to paint impressionist scenes.

"Simplicity is rare these days. I grew up hearing folk melodies, and I like to incorporate them into what I do. We are so busy focusing on the glitz now, but people respond to a simple song presented in a relaxed fashion. I think they need that in this environment. Personally, I turn to music for solace more now than at any time in my life. If I want excitement, I can turn on the news."



After a break to pour another cup of tea, we got down to it. Frank's on piano accompanied by long-time associates Ben Allison on bass and Matt Wilson on drums. It's a classic trio setting, and the musicians are comfortable with each other. Like a good basketball team, everybody knows what everyone else is doing, ("With these guys, everything is old and new at the same time.")

From the first notes, we hear that cohesiveness. And it is clear that producer Matt Balitsaris is committed to sound quality. Itís a well-recorded session. Instruments are distinct in the sound stage. Everybody's already relaxed into the music, and it stays that way for the duration of the record. The listener can sit back too.


Highlights For Me Were...

Lullabluebye: The first tune on the record is the title tune that sets the tone for the album. It is sort of a lazy blues but it doesnít adhere to the blues form. "It's a simple tune -- like most of my compositions."

Centering: a walking ballad -- is based on one augmented triad and chords are layered under it. Itís one central idea with harmonies moving under it.


You will have your favorites too. Friends, this is an enjoyable record to hear whatever your mood. Above all else, it is a record for serious jazz listeners. I appreciate that.

Although he loves to play in all settings, Lullabluebye shows just how much Frank Kimbrough treasures his trio. A strong statement by a pianist well worth discovering -- if you enjoy intelligent jazz piano, you will enjoy Lullabluebye.


1Check out Love Is Proximity on Soul Note [The Herbie Nichols Project]




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