Frank Kimbrough's Air
I’ve been listening to Kimbrough for 20 years now, ever since he was a protg of Shirley Horn, up through his years as co-director (with bassist Ben Allison) of the Jazz Composers Collective, his longtime stint in Maria Schneider’s Jazz Orchestra, and his occasional projects with Joe Locke, Paul Bley, and Paul Motian. But I have never heard him play with such freedom, virtuosity, and gorgeous lyricism—all at once—as on these sessions.
Listen especially to “Quickening,” an original piece that’s reminiscent of Monk with a dash of Tatum and Waller. Kimbrough plays so much—and takes such different paths—with each of his hands, that I could have sworn I heard overdubbing. (He assures me there was none.) But pyrotechnics have never impressed me for their own sake (for instance, with due respect for the dead, I was never a fan of Oscar Peterson, except as a singer’s accompanist). What’s impressive about Kimbrough is that he can do all this while keeping the pulse ticking and the head swaying. He also does a slow, bluesy cover of Motian’s “It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago,” a knotty spin with a dirge on Monk’s “Coming on the Hudson,” and a jolting excursion through Ellington’s rarely heard “Wig Wise,” among others.
The sound quality is warm and percussive. Buy this.