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Frank Kimbrough: Solstice

Budd Kopman By

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Pianist Frank Kimbrough's latest offering, Solstice on the Pirouet label, is a joy from beginning to end.

Pirouet is the home of some other fine piano trios, including those of Marc Copland (see Some Love Songs, Modinha, Voices and Night Whispers).

Copland, arguably working from the Bill Evans aesthetic is, of course, quite different than Kimbrough, who resides much more within the aesthetic of Paul Bley, who worked with and influenced many players including Satoko Fujii (see Something About Water).

Indeed, the allure of Solstice is its very "Bley-ishness" which is combined with a deep ruminative intensity as well as a strong sense of a personal statement being made.

The recording has much in common with drummer Jeff Cosgrove's Conversations With Owls, besides both including Kimbrough, in that both trios had little or no preparation and just played, recording the first takes. While Kimbrough came with tunes, Cosgrove just asked for the feeling of space. Thus both recordings were made in the moment and are a testament to the sensitivity and musical reflexes of the performers. Bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Jeff Hirshfield have both known Kimbrough a long time and the trio plays as one.

The choice of compositions is also very telling. The title (and longest) tune is by Kimbrough's life partner Maryanne de Prophetis and which has a melody that somehow never ends. There are two gorgeous tunes by the enigmatic Annette Peacock ("El Cordobes" and "Albert's Love Theme" -see An Acrobat's Heart). "The Sunflower" by Paul Motian fits right in Kimbrough's predilection for the harmonies and lines of Bley. Maria Schneider, in whose orchestra Kimbrough has long played, is represented by "Walking By Flashlight" which appeared on her most recent and highly acclaimed project The Thompson Fields.

Magnificent and magical music, highly emotional and deeply felt.

Track Listing: Seven; Here Come The Honey Man; Solstice; The Sunflower; Albert's Love Theme; Question's The Answer; From California With Love; El Cordobes; Walking By Flashlight.

Personnel: Frank Kimbrough: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Jeff Hirshfield: drums.

Title: Solstice | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Pirouet Records

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