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Artist Profiles

Frank Kimbrough: Important Every Time

By Published: July 19, 2006
In 1994 Kimbrough helped expose one of his favorite composers by forming the Herbie Nichols Project, an outgrowth of the Jazz Composers Collective (JCC), which he founded with Allison in 1992.

"It was outside the lines we had drawn for [the Collective] because the idea was to do our original music, but we decided it would be a good idea, he said. The project resulted in three recordings, tours to Europe and a grant for publicity. The most remarkable outcome was all the different groups the Collective spawned. Kimbrough alone played in 20 different bands related to the Collective.

Six months after forming the JCC, he joined Schneider's group. "You know how life sometimes dumps something in your lap once in a while? That was one of the greatest, he said. "Not only did it put me in proximity to this incredible music, but all the musicians that I've met on that gig in 13 years.

Thrilled yet terrified, the meticulously written music contrasted with most of the stuff he immersed himself in at that time. "It was very composed and written out and I didn't want to screw it up because I was playing with all these cats who were first call studio cats and they walk in and just nail it. I didn't want to embarrass myself. I was really terrified the first rehearsal. But things settled in and it's been great. I remember playing a concert in Paris where I thought they were going to shake the building down. People were clapping and stomping and yelling, it almost brought everybody in the band to tears.

Schneider considers Kimbrough one of the most important members of her group. "He knows where to leave space, she said. "He's very sensitive. He wraps himself around each soloist and takes care to go in the direction they're going and is really supportive. I hear things he plays and think 'Oh God if only I could write that.' Sometimes he'll finish an introduction and I'll think 'I don't even want to hear my music after that. It's over. Lets just end with that.'

Frank Kimbrough Kimbrough also plays regularly in a group with his wife, singer Maryanne deProphetis and trumpet player Ron Horton. "As an accompanist, he is unsurpassed, Horton said. "His sensitivity to a melodic instrument is a wonderful support. And as a soloist he's almost always on fire.

Despite Kimbrough's sassy willfulness and blue-eyed Appalachian charm, his band mates agree that he's got it together. And Bley can't blame him for not coming prepared for their gig in May. "He said to me 'You mean after all this time you haven't even thought about what you want to do?' Kimbrough recalled. "And I said 'nope.' He said 'why not?' I just looked at him and laughed and said 'because I knew it wouldn't matter.' And we both just broke up into hysterical laughter.

Selected Discography

Frank Kimbrough, Play (Palmetto, 2006)
Frank Kimbrough, Lullabluebye (Palmetto, 2004)

Maria Schneider, Concert in the Garden (ArtistShare, 2004)

Herbie Nichols Project, Dr. Cyclop's Dream (Black Saint, 1999)

Frank Kimbrough, Quickening (OmniTone, 1998)

Frank Kimbrough, Lonely Woman (Mapleshade, 1988)

Photo Credit:
Jimmy Katz

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