As a leader, pianist Frank Kimbrough's primary means of expression has been the trio format and a refined casualness permeates Rumors. Never harried, his ideas spill from the keys to be absorbed and distilled by bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Jeff Hirshfield. The trio's affinity is manifest in the broad communication heard within the music.
They subtly ease into the slow-building opener, "Six," the only non-Kimbrough composition; he evinces a delicate touch that Kamaguchi responds to with thick thrumming support, colored by Hirshfield's understated cymbal accents. Flowing piano opens "TMI" with a bit of swagger, as the bass and drums settle into a lightly skittering groove for Kimbrough's clustered bursts, before lulling to a freer section that features Kamaguchi. The leader's solo introduces "Hope" and, with lengthening lines, his masterful key inflections impart emotive heft, befitting the title.
The title track was first recorded on trumpeter Ron Horton's Subtextures (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2003) and is given a subdued, less emphatic reading, Kimbrough hinting at the theme with oblique articulation. He maintains the harmonic movement to accompany his solo, working back to the theme with a trilling finale that Hirshfield beautifully mirrors on a cymbal in near unison. The drummer stretches out on the fleet stuttering of "Over," building drama with his low tom and dynamic variation, before passing to Kamaguchi, who plays off the theme's staccato angularity. "For Andrew," dedicated to the late pianist Andrew Hill, closes the set, a poignant tribute with a simmering, ascending melodic line.
Kimbrough's flexible approach to the trio forminformed by but not beholden to traditionhighlights his artistry, aided by his lithe rhythm section's full participation in the music.
Six; TMI; Hope; Rumors; Sure As We're Here; Forsythia; Over; For Andrew.
Frank Kimbrough: piano; Masa Kamaguchi: bass; Jeff Hirshfield: drums.
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