Tasty prix fixe jazz…
Frank Kimbrough – Meantime – Newvelle NV001LP – vinyl ***1/2:
(Frank Kimbrough – piano; Andrew Zimmerman – tenor sax; Riley Mulherkar – trumpet; Chris Van Vorst Van Beest – bass; RJ Miller – drums)
There are those that love the best life has to offer. (Within reasonable limits) they pursue fine food, fine wine, and aural treats as well. For audiophiles, 180 gm vinyl has always fit the bill, even in times when digital releases smothered the market. There is a warmth and presence that a well-recorded and pressed analog LP has always claimed.
A new marketing strategy by Newvelle Records will appeal to this market. They are offering a subscription series (beginning at $350) for six audiophile 180 gm LPs to be issued bi-monthly over the next year. Newvelle’s goal is to keep the signal chain short and clean utilizing vintage and tube microphones. Promising the best acoustics, recorded at East Side Sound in NYC, and pressed at MPO in France, the subscription features six intriguing titles. Besides the initial Frank Kimbrough issue, they include a solo piano recording by Jack DeJohnette, a Don Friedman Trio tribute to Booker Little, and Ben Allison Trio’s homage to Jim Hall and Jimmy Giuffre. Rounding out the series will be LPs from Noah Preminger, and the Leo Genovese Trio featuring DeJohnette and Esperanza Spaulding.
Newvelle is owned by pianist Elan Mehler and co-founder Jean-Christophe Morissea. Newvelle records the session and pays the artist for the two year use of the master. At the end of two years the artist can market their product digitally retaining ownership. Audiophiles who subscribe to Newvelle will get a gorgeously packaged gate fold with archival photography.
Meantime by Frank Kimbrough is the premiere LP of the series. Consisting of tenor sax, trumpet, and rhythm section, and recording mostly originals with the addition of Weill/Utrecht’s “Alabama Song,” the Hamburg/Arlene classic, “Last Night When We Were Young,” and Andrew Hill’s “Laverne,” this album boasts pristine acoustics with a wide sound stage. The clear vinyl is gorgeous, and the photographs from the archives of Bernard Plossu add class to the gate fold. The LP liner has a poem by Tracy K. Smith. It’s not too often that an LP could be presented as art on your coffee table…
The tracks presented are a fine mix of the wistful and buoyant. “Alabama Song” has an intriguing cascading piano theme, while “Laughing at Gravity” has bop oriented sax with Kimbrough’s piano prodding and setting a vigorous mood. “Twenty Bars” is a thoughtful blues with well mixed bass. “Elegy for PM (Paul Motian)” brings Keith Jarrett to mind with sparkling piano setting a dreamy ambiance supported by an ethereal sax flight.
“Katonah” is a sax and trumpet feature with good ensemble blend, and a welcome full band presentation. The title track has a conversational quality as the theme is explored and re-imagined with strong improvisation. “Last Night When We Were Young” is a beautiful ballad with impressive trumpet by Riley Mulherkar.
Connoisseurs would not hesitate to spend at least $60 for a special meal. Spending the same on a fine LP for repeated enjoyment makes perfect sense. I look forward to experiencing the balance of the “prix fixe” menu from Newvelle.
Side A: Alabama Song, Laughing at Gravity, Twenty Bars, Laverne, Elegy for PM
Side B: Katonah, Meantime, Four by Four, Last Night When We Were Young