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Honoring Frank Kimbrough with a Sprawling Tribute

William Semeraro
Newvelle Records

Frank Kimbrough, who died last December at 64, was a seeker of musical intrigue and a source of musical truths. His presence in any situation was a catalyst, and he passed that spirit on to generations of younger players, including some of the finest around.

Last week, Newvelle Records paid an extravagant homage to this legacy with KIMBROUGH, a digital release featuring 67 musicians in ever-changing configurations, playing nearly 60 of Kimbrough's tunes. Our own Nate Chinen shared news of this album with an Arts feature in the New York Times, reported from the recording session.

So in this episode of The Checkout, we wanted to talk about this extraordinary body of work — an overdue celebration of Kimbrough's overlooked genius as a composer, a marvel of logistical planning, and a convocation made all the more poignant by a year and a half of pandemic restrictions.

Saxophonists Joe Lovano and Donny McCaslin at East Side Sound, recording their contribution to 'KIMBROUGH'
Anna Yatskevich
Saxophonists Joe Lovano and Donny McCaslin at East Side Sound, recording their contribution to 'KIMBROUGH'

We'll talk about Kimbrough's artistry and motivations, reflecting on some of the reasons why he never received his proper due. And we will pull the curtain back on the sessions, with excerpts of Nate's interviews with pianist and producer Elan Mehler, bassist Ben Allison, trumpeter Ron Horton and pianist Craig Taborn.

KIMBROUGH is available now on Bandcamp and at Newvelle Records.

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For more than 15 years, Simon Rentner has worked as a host, producer, broadcaster, web journalist, and music presenter in New York City. His career gives him the opportunity to cover a wide spectrum of topics including, history, culture, and, most importantly, his true passion of music from faraway places such as Europe, South America, and Africa.
A veteran jazz critic and award-winning author, and a regular contributor to NPR Music.