~ David Adler
The second week of January was one of phenomenal piano trios. Within two-night's time were pianists Harold Mabern (Smith's) and Joe Sample (mid-residency at Blue Note), as well as Randy Weston (Jazz Standard) and Borah Bergman (Tonic) each performing in rare trio outings. However, Frank Kimbrough's (with bassist Ben Allison and drummer Matt Wilson) - one of the most subtle and challenging while swinging and accessible working threesomes - stole the spotlight for their single-night at Sweet Rhythm (Jan. 12th). The three top-notch improvisers moved as one for two sets, from their off-beat yet rhythmic take on Herbie Nichols' "Wildflower" and the "Money Jungle"-like Kimbrough-penned Gil Evans tribute "Svengali", to the title track of their most recent recording, Lullabluebye (Palmetto). Their triangular interplay was telepathic throughout the second set, from each tune's thematic development to their explorations, especially within the nicely selected standard material. Jerome Kern's "Long Ago and Far Way" and Thelonious Monk's "Coming on the Hudson" ceaselessly morphed and grew to new melodic, harmonic and rhythmic heights. Never a monotonous moment, they embellished without hesitation, thrusting momentum forward with occasional collective pauses allowing for single notes or beats to breathe just long enough to add an ever-elastic tension upon release. Creativity: noticeably at the heart of this ever-musical, dynamic, and underrated trio.
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