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Monday, December 31, 2012

Nate Kimball - Warrior's Journey

Nate  Kimball - Warrior’s Journey
2012, TNC Recordings
If you’re looking for the next big name in jazz, you might be very happy to settle on Nate Kimball.  His list of credits is impressive: Chick Correa, Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow, The Count Basie Orchestra, Jessica Simpson and The Killers, to name but a few.  The 28-year old Las Vegas native is more than just a wizard with the trombone however; Kimball is a composer nonpareil who has been recognized by the International Trombone Association (2006, 2007, and 2010); the Reno Jazz Festival (2012); and the Nevada Jazz Society (2007).  One of his compositions, “Side Effect”, was recently premiered at the Monterrey Jazz Festival by the Las Vegas Academy Jazz Ensemble.  You’ll see why the accolades rain down on Kimball after listening to his album Warrior’s Journey. 
Kimball recorded Warrior’s Journey with four impressive cohorts.  Joe Lano (guitar) has played with Lena Horne, Mel Tormé, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Nancy Wilson and Henry Mancini.  Brian Triola (piano/keys) is part of Las Vegas and regional favorites Moksha.  Bassist Steve Flora plays the top rooms in Las Vegas, and drummer Larry Aberman has recorded with The Vaughan Brothers, Ric Ocasek, Wynton Marsalis, David Lee Roth, Daniel Lanois, Lionel Richie and Danielle Brisebois (to name just a few).  This will give you an idea of the quality of play on Warrior’s Journey, but mere words don’t do the album justice.
Kimball sticks to classic jazz stylings, allowing the occasional progressive wave to pass through the waters.  It’s easy to see Kimball and crew fitting into any era of jazz from the Big Band era on.  Kimball kicks things off with “Warrior’s Journey”, beginning as a sleepy rumination but moving soon into a quietly energetic jazz waltz.  Kimball’s trombone is stellar, but the rest of the quintet is flawless as well.  Brian Triola adds perfect punctuation to Kimball’s lead, and whips off some amazing solos of his own.  Perhaps the most impressive part of the song, however, is when Larry Aberman takes the lead on drums.  If you want to analyze what he’s doing you’ll need a couple of cameras and the ability to slow tape on playback.  It’s amazing.
“Way Station” shows the same sort of breakdown of duties, with Kimball taking the lead, but passing it around for all to share.  What’s most impressive is how seamlessly Kimball’s quintet moves together, never seeming to miss a beat or an exchange.  “Far Away” has a distinctive, melancholy, blue-jazz feel.  Kimball brings emotions alive in the lyric trombone lines, while Brian Triola creates a bit of rhythmic dissonance that helps to appropriately shade the mood.  There is magic here.  “Road To La Coruna” takes a on a subtle Latin jazz sound, and features some of the best low-key work on the album.  Things get a bit more progressive on “Hello World”, with Kimball himself getting aggressive in his soloing style.  Triola picks up this vibe and runs with it, getting into a Vince Guaraldi groove that’s mellow yet not.  “Back Home” is an interesting closer.  You might say the ensemble play is a bit looser here, as Kimball et. al. look to push the boundaries with some off-the-cuff and speed-based solos.
Nate Kimball shows his worth as a composer, bandleader and musician on Warrior’s Journey.  With a killer supporting cast, and some of the best original jazz of 2012, Kimball challenges the world of modern jazz with a traditional-leaning album that reinvigorates the art form the way artists like Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Dizzy Gillespie and Harry Connick, Jr. have done before him.  Thirty years from now you’ll hear jazz aficionados discussing Kimball in the same reverent tones.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

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