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Frank Kimbrough & Joe Locke

North Pointe Cultural Arts Center
Kinderhook, NY
October 1, 2005

by Jeff Waggoner

Pianist Frank Kimbrough and vibraphonist Joe Locke have been playing together so long that their two instruments sound like one.
Merge the ethereal lilt of the vibes with the harmonic and percussive complexity of the piano and you find their sound.
Nearly a full house at the North Pointe Cultural Arts Center in Kinderhook listened to this chiming duo, which kicked off the fourth season of the Center’s “Jazz Greats” series which is co-sponsored by the Hudson Valley Friends of Jazz.  It's a series that is quickly shaping up to be one of the top jazz venues in the region, as it attracts musicians of unparalleled skill – ranging from headliners like Greg Osby and David Liebman to relatively unheralded artists who provide the audience with the delighted sense of new discovery.
Kimbrough, though, is a continual discovery or local jazz fans.  Last year he played at North Pointe with bass innovator and fellow Jazz Composers Collective member, Ben Allison.
What makes the North Pointe series especially rewarding is that the musicians often make themselves available to take questions an hour before the 8pm concert.  While good music always speaks for itself, it’s a bonus  to be able to connect with the artists on a personal as well as musical level.
Kimbrough explained how his JCC came about, helping the listener understand better how he and his colleagues are able to blend an abundance of raw talent with the creative intelligence needed to push the art-form forward.
While Locke – a past Down Beat critics No. 1 vibraphonist winner --  is not a formal member of the JCC, his style with the mallets melds well with what some critics have called Kimbrough’s “inside/outside” style of playing.
Imagine Bill Evan’s harmonic and lyrical sensitivity meeting Paul Bley’s risk taking and you have an idea of where Kimbrough and Locke are coming from.
Kimbrough/Locke played eight pieces, many of which can be found on two of the duo’s excellent CDs, “Saturn’s Child” (OmniTone) and “The Willow,” (OmniTone) on which the duo is joined by woodwindist Tim Ries and Jeff Ballard, percussion.
While some critics prefer The Willow, it is best to taste Kimbrough/Locke straight up, and “Saturn’s Child,” provides an excellent example of this astonishing duo’s tight interplay and moody beauty.
Next up in the North Pointe series: Roswell Rudd on trombone and Lafayette Harris on piano, Nov. 5. Hear drummer Lewis Nash and saxophonist Steve Wilson on Dec. 3.

Jeff Waggoner has written book, CD and concert reviews for publications such as Metroland, Jazz Times, Blues Access and The New York Times. He lives in Nassau, is a student of jazz saxophone and guitar and can be frequently found at jazz, blues and folk concerts.