The best pianists play with a lyricism that makes fast pieces feel like ballads and an incisiveness that makes ballads feel chiseled from stone. Solstice is a ballads album, but not one thing about it is soft. It may be the best recording Frank Kimbrough has made.
A key to its realization is repertoire. Most jazz musicians today want to play their own stuff, whether they are good composers or not; the rest do standards. Kimbrough does neither. He plays one original, the tense, intriguing “Question’s the Answer.” Then he chooses six pieces from distinguished composers who are known—but only within the insular world of jazz—as conjurors of magic. Each song has a necessary place in the enveloping atmosphere of this album, which should only be played after midnight.