Frank Kimbrough, Pianist With a Delicate Contact, Is Useless at 64
Frank Kimbrough, a deft and delicate jazz pianist identified for his work within the Maria Schneider Orchestra and different outstanding teams, and because the chief of his personal small ensembles, died on Dec. 30 at his house in Queens. He was 64.
Ann Braithwaite, his publicist, mentioned that the trigger was not but identified however that it was believed to be a coronary heart assault.
Informal of gesture however deeply targeted in demeanor, Mr. Kimbrough had an understated type that might nonetheless maintain the highlight in trio settings, or match slyly into Ms. Schneider’s 18-piece huge band.
In some ways, his enjoying mirrored the Romantic, floating method of his first jazz affect, Invoice Evans. However his off-kilter type as each a participant and a composer additionally referred to as again to 2 of his extra rugged bebop-era influences: Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk, each of whom he finally paid tribute to on document.
In 2018, Mr. Kimbrough put forth “Monk’s Desires: The Full Compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk,” essentially the most formidable recording of his profession, a six-disc assortment on Sunnyside Data spanning Monk’s whole identified songbook. Mr. Kimbrough’s free and beneficiant spirit as a bandleader permeates the document, driving a quartet that options Scott Robinson on saxophones and different horns, Rufus Reid on bass and Billy Drummond on drums.
All informed, Mr. Kimbrough launched properly over a dozen albums as a pacesetter, beginning with “Star-Crossed Lovers” (1986), a cassette-only launch for Mapleshade Data, and together with the celebrated recordings “Lullabluebye” (2004), “Play” (2006) and “Stay at Kitano” (2012).
Since 1993, he had appeared on each album besides one by Ms. Schneider, a Grammy winner and Nationwide Endowment for the Arts Jazz Grasp, together with final 12 months’s extensively acclaimed double disc “Knowledge Lords.”
In a New York Instances assessment of the trumpeter Ron Horton’s sextet in 2000, Ben Ratliff wrote, “A part of Mr. Kimbrough’s originality takes the type of an virtually passive or Zenlike method to an energetic scenario; his solo in an pressing piece referred to as ‘Groveling’ was a sustained rubato rhapsody, and in any other case he performs cloudlike chords the place you’ll usually count on rhythmic stabs.”
Frank Marshall Kimbrough Jr. was born on Nov. 2, 1956, in Roxboro, N.C. His mom, Katie Lee (Currin) Kimbrough, was a piano instructor, and he at all times mentioned that he had been enjoying since earlier than he might bear in mind. His father was a florist. Frank took piano with an area Baptist minister, then briefly studied at Appalachian State College earlier than dropping out as a result of the college’s curriculum didn’t have a spot for jazz.
By his mid-20s he was a identified bandleader on the Chapel Hill scene, and in 1980 he relocated to Washington, the place he gigged with quite a few native stalwarts and got here beneath the wing of the pianist and vocalist Shirley Horn. It was by means of her that he finally signed with Mapleshade, after transferring to New York Metropolis in 1981. His mentors there included the pianists Andrew Hill and Paul Bley, in addition to the drummer Paul Motian.
“They have been all very variety to me, and we’ve spent numerous time collectively,” he mentioned in a 2019 interview with jazztrail.web. “So their affect was not simply musical. I noticed how they labored and we hung out speaking about music, however different issues too.”
Mr. Kimbrough himself went on to be an educator identified for his dedication to his college students. He taught piano at New York College within the Nineties and in 2008 turned a music professor on the Juilliard Faculty, the place he taught till his dying.
“I believe it’s my duty to cross all the data I’ve realized from these nice musicians on,” he mentioned in 2019. “This music isn’t taught in books, it’s taught individual to individual, and I attempt to give all that away.”
Along with his spouse of 31 years, the vocalist Maryanne de Prophetis, Mr. Kimbrough is survived by his mom and 4 youthful brothers: Conrad, Mark, Edwin and David.
In 1985, he gained the Nice American Jazz Piano Competitors, held yearly on the Jacksonville Jazz Competition in Florida. Within the early Nineties he and the bassist Ben Allison based the Jazz Composers Collective, whose members usually performed and recorded collectively. Their work in that group led to the Herbie Nichols Venture, an effort that was led by Mr. Allison however that featured Mr. Kimbrough prominently.
Mr. Kimbrough listened to a big selection of music, in jazz and properly past, usually leaning towards ruminative composers like Morton Feldman or folkloric sources from all over the world.
His favourite place to compose, he mentioned, was on a park bench by the East River, overlooking Manhattan.
“I write issues which are sketches, one web page lengthy. I like to jot down easy items which are simple to play,” he informed DownBeat in 2016. “There’s a park throughout the road from my home, and I’m going over there at night time, possibly round 11:00, and I sit there. And if an thought hits me, I’ll stroll across the park with the thought bouncing round my head for six months, after which I’d write 16 bars of music.”
A affected person, deliberate course of suited Mr. Kimbrough, and he was bored with any method that valued bodily talent over earnest expression. “Music isn’t athletics,” he mentioned. “I’m bored with listening to intelligent athletic music.”
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