Frank Kimbrough 2003-2006 – Volume One: Lullabluebye; Volume Two: Play – Palmetto Records

by | Feb 20, 2023 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

This is a great vinyl upgrade of two Frank Kimbrough albums.

Frank Kimbrough 2003-2006 Volume One: Lullabluebye; Volume Two:Play – Palmetto Records special 4-LP set, 60:04 ****1/2:

(Volume One: Frank Kimbrough – piano; Ben Allison – bass; Matt Wilson – drums; Volume Two: Frank Kimbrough – piano; Masa Kamaguchi – bass; Paul Motian – drums)

North Carolina native Frank Kimbrough was a respected post-bop jazz pianists. Among his influences were Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, Keith Jarrett, Cecil Taylor and Paul Bley. He first garnered attention as a long-time member of the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. Kimbrough also recorded 16 albums as a solo artist or band leader. Like many modern pianists, he was noted for melodic exploration and subtlety. He also shared the passion of education, teaching at New York University and Julliard. Some of his greatest work occurred with various trios. Much of his individual catalog was with Palmetto Records. 

Palmetto Records has released a 4-LP remix and remastered vinyl of two of Kimbrough’s most formidable releases. The first four sides (Volume 1) represent the album Lullabluebye. Side 1 opens with the title track. With understated elegance, he sets up an extended blues performance with bassist Ben Allison  and drummer Matt Wilson. He weaves through various intricacies with subtle trills and rolls as the trio folds around his play. It is a unique take on this genre. “Centering” is more ethereal and explores a gently flowing tempo with precise right hand notation. He captures emotional shading with delicate intonation. Picking up the pace, “Kid Stuff’ exudes the joyfulness of pianists like Vince Guaraldi with crisp punctuation. “Fu Bu”  (Side 2) explores more improvisational jazzy motifs in a complex funky rhythm. It is exotic and fresh The halting  phrasing is reminiscent of Monk. There are some freer piano riffs at the end. “Ode” has a haunting sophisticated melancholy which seems to draw on a variety of influences. The trio re-establishes jauntier grooves on the Allison-penned number “Ben’s Tune”. His playing is spirited and playful, with soulful accents. “Whirl” (Side 3) is an amazing tempo-defying statement. Allison’s bass work is propulsive and Kimbrough’s solos are unconventional and extemporaneous. In a distinctive change of mood, “Ghost Dance” is ruminative with great spacing. Allison and Wilson  manage to join in without interrupting the quiet atmospherics. In a pleasant surprise, John Barry’s Bond theme “You Only Live Twice” (Side 4) is transformed to a gently swinging, aspirational jazz opus. Kimbrough’s phrasing is magnetic. The finale (“Eventualities”) is another moody piece with forceful piano chords and driving tempo.

For Volume IIPlay, Bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer extraordinaire Paul Motian are together. As Side 1 begins, “Beginnings” is yet another stylistic jam. Kimbrough exudes classical heartfelt resonance with pensive execution, as Motian brings a palpable, sustained drum rhythm. With ebullience, “The Spins” feels like up tempo hard bop, with variations on 3/4 time. This trio has a definite affinity for modern jazz. In waltz-time “Lucent” has a gossamer sensibility. Motian’s deft brush work is impressive and Kamaguchi’s bass builds a counter rhythm. Kimbrough’s assured play meshes well with the rhythm section. Slowing things down, “Waiting In Santander” (Side 2) is ruminative and deliberate with some abstraction. Motian contributes two songs to this album. The first, “Conception Vessel” opens with a wildly original drum that precedes a serpentine piano lead. This is one of the most inventive arrangements. “Jimmy G” has a relaxed, sinewy touch, almost dream-like. Kimbrough adds little flourishes that fit perfectly. Possessing lyrical finesse, “Regeneration” is simply gorgeous with a tender, gentle sway. The last “side” features the title cut (Motian’s second opus). Things start with a plaintive melody line that Kimbrough paints with glowing articulation. With drum fills and almost New Orleans soul, “Little Big Man” stretches across many jazz idiomatic expressions. On bass and piano, “Beginnings 2” is as impactful as the first version.

Frank Kimbrough 20032006 is a great re-mastered commemorative album of the late Frank Kimbrough. The sound mix is vibrant with centered piano and good stereo separation. It captures Kimbrough at the apex of his legacy as a composer and pianist.

Frank Kimbrough 2003-2006

TrackLists

Volume 1: Lullabluebye:

Side 1: Lullabluebye; Centering; Kid Stuff
Side 2: Fu Bu; Ode; Ben’s Tune
Side 3: Whirl; Ghost Dance
Side 4: You Only Live Twice; Eventualities

Volume 2: Play 

Side 1: Beginning; The Spins; Lucent
Side 2: Waiting In Santander; Conception Vessel
Side 3: Jimmy G; Regeneration
Side 4: Play; Little Big Man; Beginning 2.      

—Robbie Gerson

More information at Palmetto Records:

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