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Frank Kimbrough: Quartet

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Frank Kimbrough’s piano playing is unpredictable. Not in terms of quality-he’s always “on”-but in terms of content, direction and execution. He’s a genuinely spontaneous player. He can sound barbed yet romantic, busy but introspective, funky but un-clichéd. Quartet, with alto and soprano saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Lewis Nash, offers plenty of interplay-especially between Kimbrough and Anderson (sometimes reminiscent of Bill Evans and Scott LaFaro). Nash, adept at following Kimbrough’s lead, accentuates the undulations of the group more than he propels the ensemble and soloists. Wilson, when soloing, often takes a cue from Kimbrough’s linearity. He plays alto predominantly, but there are three enchanting appearances on soprano: Kurt Weill’s “Trouble Man,” Kimbrough’s “Beginning” and Rodgers and Hart’s “It Never Entered My Mind.”

“Kudzu” is a funky, downhome original that recalls Kimbrough’s North Carolina roots. Funky in a Mose Allison-meets-Paul Bley kind of way, it is the hardest-driving tune here. Kimbrough’s “November” is, as its title suggests, an evocative inducement to personal reflection. John Lewis’ “Afternoon in Paris” showcases Kimbrough’s fluid uptempo playing. Throughout this disc, Kimbrough and company demonstrate the value of taking chances. A superb set.

Originally Published