Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"With this program of modern mainstream originals, pianist Frank Kimbrough embarks on a journey that emphasizes layers of lush harmony and ethereal impressions. While meter plays an important role on Play, Kimbrough's trio finds that it can express just as well with or without this tool; the pianist's swirling keyboard attacks ebb and flow dynamically.
Bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Paul Motian share equally in this creative journey, lending lustrous textures that ooze freely alongside the pianist's lyric impressions. Jimmy G, in honor of Jimmy Giuffre, drifts slowly in three, applying a relaxed blues hue to the performance. "The Spins, a quirky dedication to Steve Lacy, drives up-tempo with animation. "Beginning and "Beginning 2 both come with slow, moody impressions that recall the classic Bill Evans Trio.
"Regeneration, composed just nine days after September 11, 2001, provides an uplifting feeling of hope. Here, Kimbrough's piano cries out in search of answers. His lyrical approach turns toward that side of us that understands starting over and finding the strength to build. Motian's two compositions, "Play and "Conception Vessel, eschew meter in favor of an ethereal quality that lifts the trio on clouds of soft cotton.
Little Big Man, written with some humor in mind, drives pleasantly through a quirky scenario that lives for its freedom. It's obvious that Kimbrough and his musical partners enjoyed putting this program together. As we share this satisfying music with them, we're able to feel the same kind of energy and spontaneity." -AllAboutJazz
"Recorded with no rehearsal and just five hours of studio time, Play is something of a departure for post bop-to-free pianist Frank Kimbrough. Unlike almost all of his previous albums, it's a fly by the seat of your pants affair with essentially a pickup group, albeit one of the highest calibre. The pastel, vivacious and lyrical music succeeds because of the artistry of the individual players and the unmistakable good chemistry among them.
Most of the dozen or so albums Kimbrough has made as leader have been with longstanding, match-fit groups, and many of his sideman performances have been with friends and associates from the Jazz Composers Collective. Kimbrough's recordings as co-leader of the Herbie Nichols Project (three albums) and with the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra (four albums) have by their very nature entailed considerable pre-planning and arranging.
Play is an all-round chancier affair. Kimbrough and drummer Paul Motian had never played together before. Bassist Masa Kamaguchi met Motian for the first time at this session. There were no run-throughs, and Motian didn't want any written music - Kimbrough simply played each tune through for him once, and the trio took it from there.
The tunes themselves - seven by Kimbrough, two by Motian - are in the main gossamer-light, almost vestigial fragments. Kimbrough's "Waiting In Santander," the longest track at over eight minutes, is the album's masterpiece, starting with softly cascading, harp-like piano motifs over suspended time, before building into a more intense, but supple and responsive, collective improvisation. "Beginning" and "Lucent" (both by Kimbrough) and "Play" (by Motian) explore similar territory. Motian's "Conception Vessel," which begins with an extended drum intro - practically the only time on the album when Motian is heard solo - is pacier and more assertive.
Two waltz tracks have more conventionally robust structures. "The Spins" is a relatively forceful, rough-edged, Monkish tune which Kimbrough dedicates to the memory of Steve Lacy. "Jimmy G," another Kimbrough tune, is a tender blues for Jimmy Giuffre. Both are delightful.
Kimbrough's playing, characterised by long lines of sustained melodic invention, mostly in the upper reaches of the keyboard, is sunny, warm and full of light. Kamaguchi, an ex-NYC resident now living in Barcelona, complements him perfectly. And Motian is Motian, a subtle, elliptical timekeeper and creative colourist. A lovely trio and a lovely album." -AllAboutJazz
JazzTimes (p.78) - "Kimbrough's even-keeled play gives the record a solid center....Kimbrough's lines remain self-contained and delineated, felicitous and of-a-piece with his themes."
Frank Kimbrough: Frank Kimbrough; Masa Kamaguchi (bass instrument); Paul Motian.
Personnel: Frank Kimbrough (piano); Paul Motian (drums).
Liner Note Author: Frank Kimbrough.
Recording information: Maggie's Farm, Buck's County, PA (04/25/2005/04/26/2005).
Pianist Frank Kimbrough delivers more of his deeply introspective, harmonically complex jazz on Play. Working with a trio, Kimbrough is supported here by the adept bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Paul Motian. A phenomenal pianist, Kimbrough's mix of Thelonious Monk's cubist bumptiousness and Bill Evans' impressionistic colorations is thoroughly modern and prefigures the work some of his younger, more ballyhooed contemporaries, like Brad Mehldau and Jacky Terrasson. Moving from tumbling ballads to playful waltzes and enigmatic modal pieces, Kimbrough has crafted a challenging, atmospheric, and subtle album that makes the most of his sensitive group's interplay. ~ Matt Collar