Admirers of the NYC-based, Julliard School of Music faculty member and internationally respected jazz pianist Frank Kimbrough know well of the many gratifying characteristics – adept and evident swing, tunefulness and lyricism, melodic shapeliness and generosity, intimacy and reflection, instrumental command, compositional and improvisational mastery, harmonic and time subtleties – that adorn each and every one of his releases. Featuring saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Lewis Nash, Mr. Kimbrough’s latest release – his seventh Palmetto Records CD as leader and first in leading a quartet configuration on the label– simply titled ‘Quartet’, abundantly manifests joyousness, vivacity, soulfulness, profundity and magnanimity throughout its ten tracks (seven penned by the pianist) and nearly hour’s length.
Mr. Kimbrough’s playing style – true across his dozens of recordings as leader, sideman or orchestra member – exhibits an unpretentious flair for the lyrical and rhapsodic, a full-on embrace of jazz’s barbed and syncopated elements, and unselfishness in support of his fellow musicians.
The album’s bright, spry opener, ‘The Call’, featuring solos turns by both pianist and saxophonist is followed by “Blue Smoke”, a work subtly marked by a slight darkening of coloration but not mood as well as a soaring solo turn by Mr. Wilson. “November” and Kurt Weill’s “Trouble Man” marking more introspective, ruminative turns at which Mr. Kimbrough excels, bookend the energetic bounce and funk of “Kudzu”. “Herbivore” comes closest to resembling something akin to the exploratory work of the late hard- and post-bop masters. “Ode” and “Beginning” have previous existences on two prior pianist-led trio albums; they’re revisited here in new and equally-satisfying arrangements, the former including a substantial bass feature, the latter an extended saxophone spotlight. Exhibiting a jauntier, more rough-hewn arrangement and brisk tempo than the dapper quintet original, John Lewis’s “Afternoon in Paris” and the pensively-played Rodgers & Hart standard “It Never Entered My Mind”, round off this expertly-programmed session.
Undergirding the music with Mr. Anderson and his resonant, full-bodied bass is drummer Lewis Nash, exhibiting his usual stunning and intricate stick-and-brush work, propelling the music ahead like few others can. The ensemble’s impressive cohesiveness on this, their first-ever recorded outing, is largely the result of long-standing personal and professional relationships between and amongst the players dating back years and even decades, creating trust, as well as their individual, cumulative experiences as jazz artists on the bandstand and in the studio. One can only, selfishly, wish for more to come.
Kimbrough’s exceptional playing throughout Quartet fully demonstrates the maturity of a seasoned musician who, having fully assimilated such signal influences as Paul Bley, Andrew Hill and Shirley Horn, is able to express himself organically in his own, now distinctive, instrumental voice.
“As I’ve grown over the years, I find that I want to move listeners, not impress them,” Kimbrough states. “By now the piano is who I am. I don’t want technique to be a liability I want to be able to convey what is in the moment. To be honest, to be vulnerable in my playing is what I’m most interested in. ”
“I chose the musicians on this recording because I trust their judgment. From the second note they play you can feel the depth, the lyricism, the respect for musical space they all have. Between us there’s over two hundred years of experience – you have to trust that. I’ve found as a leader that the more freedom you give players to be themselves, the more of themselves they will put into the music.”
Frank Kimbrough, composer, piano
Frank Kimbrough (born 2 November 1956 in Roxboro, North Carolina) is a post-bop jazz pianist born and raised in North Carolina. He did some work at Chapel Hill before moving to Washington, D. C. in 1980.
His influences include Herbie Nichols, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, Keith Jarrett, Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley, and Andrew Hill. In 1981 he moved to New York City and released his first CD in 1988. In the 1990s he was a member of the Herbie Nichols Project becoming co-leader with Ben Allison. He has also worked with Joe Locke and is currently with the Palmetto label. Kimbrough played in sessions with Paul Murphy. He also currently plays in the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra.
Steve Wilson, alto & soprano sax
Highly regarded as a musician’s musician, Steve Wilson has brought his distinctive sound to more than 100 recordings and ensembles led by such celebrated artists as Chick Corea, Ron Carter, Christian McBride, George Duke, Michael Brecker, Dianne Reeves, Bill Bruford, Gerald Wilson, Maria Schneider, Joe Henderson, Charlie Byrd, Karrin Allyson, and Don Byron among many others.
Arriving in New York in 1987 Wilson quickly became first-call choice for veteran and emerging artists alike, prompting a New York Times profile “A Sideman’s Life”. Since 1997 he has been regularly cited in the Downbeat Magazine Critics and Readers Polls in the soprano and alto saxophone categories. In 2008 the Jazz Journalists Association nominated him for Soprano Sax Player of the Year and in 2010 for Alto Sax Player of the Year.
Jay Anderson, bass
Bassist/composer Jay Anderson is among the most versatile and respected jazz artists performing today. He has performed/recorded with a wide range of jazz artists including Woody Herman, Carmen McRae, Michael Brecker, Paul Bley, Bob Mintzer, John Abercrombie, Dave Liebman, Joe Sample, Maria Schneider, John Scofield, Lee Konitz, Vic Juris, Red Rodney, Ira Sullivan, Mike Stern, Anat Cohen, Toots Thielemans, Kenny Wheeler, Jay Clayton and non-jazz artists like Oswaldo Golijov, Dawn Upshaw, The Australian Chamber Orchestra, Robert Spano (Atlanta Symphony), Michael Franks, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Chaka Khan, Michel Legrand, Allen Ginsberg, and Celine Dion. He has been featured on over 300 recordings, five of which have received the Grammy Award . He has conducted clinics around the world and is a Professor of Jazz Bass Studies at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. Jay currently co-leads the critically acclaimed group BANN featuring Seamus Blake, Oz Noy and Adam Nussbaum.
Lewis Nash, drums
Lewis Nash (born December 30, 1958) is an American jazz drummer. According to Modern Drummer magazine, Nash has one of the longest discographies in jazz. and has played on over 400 records by musicians, earning him the honor of being named Jazz’s Most Valuable Player by the magazine in its May 2009 issue.
Nash is noted for his adaptability to a vast array of genres, as evidenced by his performances with such different musicians as Tommy Flanagan, Melissa Manchester, Diana Krall, and George Michael. Nash has made 5 recordings as bandleader: Rhythm is My Business (1989), It Don’t Mean A Thing (2003 Japanese import) and Stompin’ At The Savoy (2005 Japanese import), Lewis Nash and the Bebop All-Stars featuring Frank Wess(2008 Japanese Import), and The Highest Mountain (2012). In 2008, Nash became part of The Blue Note 7, a septet formed that year in honor of the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records.