The Art of Aging:
This recording is dedicated to the belief that the portion of life we call aging can be negotiated with finesse and grace … that it can be lived artfully.
As everyone is unique with regard to aging, it would follow that no one is an expert; each of us must find his own way. If it is treated as a growing experience, every new trial, no matter how great, will present us with the opportunity to augment our spirit, to deepen our sense of humanity.
Who knows just when aging begins? Perhaps for most, it is when we start to notice that we need to make some changes in the way we live, that, to our surprise, our body is not on automatic pilot anymore. Perhaps it’s when we notice subtle changes in our attitudes or our thinking, or that younger people seem to find us invisible. And for many, it’s the sudden harsh reality that they’ll have to live with a new disease.
A few years ago I composed a chamber music score for the PBS documentary, “Grow Old Along With Me”. Older performing artists and actors were interviewed regarding how they lived their own personal philosophies of aging. By their thoughts and poetry, all expressed in resplendent voices, I became absorbed with the topic and the idea for this recording. Five of the pieces here were developed from music cues in that score.*
Make Hay While the Sun Shines* In this basic three part song form, a sense of urgency underscores the notion that time is wealth. Chaconne for my Sons is set in a classic theme and variations form in which the main theme is actually a chord progression, usually eight measures in length. I’ll Be Somewhere* Regarding an after life, I personally ascribe to the idea stated by a late and wonderful actor friend who mused, “I don’t know where I’ll be, but I’ll be somewhere”. Patricia’s Theme* is a love ballad with a long rubato introduction based on the second part of the song accompanied by a widely arpeggiated left hand. The main theme then begins a moderate jazz swing treatment. The Hawk* silently circles with its mate on the afternoon thermals in this two voice piece, its simple motif beginning under the final chord of “Patricia’s Theme”, symbolizing a life long love relationship. The Art of Aging A recurrent theme, basis for its rondo form, is set in constantly changing meters, settling into five/four time for an extended coda. Based on a fragment from one of my earliest pieces, it is for me a connection between the past and the present. Blackout in Bolivia Based on the opening section of Jacques Ibert’s impressionistic piano piece, “The Little White Donkey”, this work tells a story of a lonely journey at night through the alto plano of Bolivia. The Tree of Life* uses two contrasting themes, one from the documentary score and the other inspired by hymns sung by the people living on John’s Island, South Carolina. Global Exchange is a tribute to this San Francisco based organization that has made a real difference championing global causes of the poor and disenfranchised. Honoring its work in Central and South America, its two part theme uses classic Latin rhythms. Hymn for the Farmer Aspiring to pay him homage, it is written in the form of a 17th century protestant chorale and uses harmonic materials from the “Americana” style of the mid 20th century.
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Jazz CD Reviews
Richard Kimball, solo piano – The Art of Aging – self-published
Pianist Richard Kimball reflects on some of the ways people handle the issues of growing old.
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Published on October 27, 2011
Richard Kimball, solo piano – The Art of Aging – self-published
Richard Kimball, solo piano – The Art of Aging – Richard Kimball Publishing RK7339, 57:42 ****:
Most jazz artists don’t get a gig which lasts for a long time. One- or two-night stands while on the road are par for the course; a few weeks at a local venue can occur. New York City pianist Richard Kimball, though, may have set some kind of record for his regular appearances. For the past three decades, he has been co-house pianist, along with Brazilian pianist Dom Salvador, at The River Café under the Brooklyn Bridge, where he plays his distinctive arrangements of tunes from the Great American Songbook and jazz standards. Kimball also has studied, composed and staged classical music and his versatility gives his composed and performed material a wider musical vocabulary than the norm, which provides his music a dynamic and engaging shift. This talent is well represented on Kimball’s new solo release, the all-original, ten-track outing The Art of Aging. The title reveals the album’s thematic continuity, with personalized and often emotionally-shaded pieces which reflect the subtle aspects of getting older. Five of the ten tracks were inspired by original cues Kimball wrote for a chamber music score for the documentary, “Grow Old Along with Me,” which aired on some PBS television stations. The other music echoes the thoughts which went into those five tracks: an expression on how it feels to become older and how different people manage the transition.
Two compositions are linked by the viewpoint of a father edging toward life’s horizon and the bond he has for his two sons. Opener “Make Hay While the Sun Shines” is written in a three-part structure which underscores the idea that time is important and not to be wasted. Kimball commences with an introduction which utilizes a 20th-century classical form and then modifies the tune via improvisation into several styles and rhythms which incorporate jazz and indirect Brazilian musical elements. The next cut, “Chaconne for My Sons,” is founded on a type of musical composition popular in the baroque era and which Kimball employs as a tool for variants on a repeated eight-bar harmonic progression. The repetition of a tender bass line and an accompanying rhythmic figure beautifully captures Kimball’s desire for a bright future for his children as well his sensitive blend of both classical music and jazz.
Longtime companionship is another constituent of going from younger years to retirement. Kimball includes two numbers which mirror maturing romance. The love ballad “Patricia’s Theme” has a lengthy rubato prelude and the tune’s main body flows with a mild swing rhythm where Kimball recurrently returns to the pleasant opening melody. The very brief motif, “The Hawk,” is used to close out “Patricia’s Theme,” and fosters the image of a hawk and its mate circling together as a metaphor for life-long devotion to a spouse
Two highlights benefit from Latin musical influences. “Blackout in Bolivia”—inspired by the lead-in section of Jacques Ibert’s impressionistic piano piece, “The Little White Donkey”—is Kimball’s tale of a lonely journey at night through the alto plano (Spanish for high plain) area of Bolivia. Rather than a shadowy and dark-tinged arrangement, Kimball presents a sprightly left-hand rhythm while he offers an exploratory, right-hand alternate. Another upbeat work is “Global Exchange,” which is a tribute to the San Francisco-based group which promotes human rights and social justice around the globe. In honor of the organization’s endeavors in Central and South America, Kimball applies a two-part theme which has a cheerful Latin cadence. There is other excellent material to listen to as well, including the easygoing title track, the hymn-like “The Tree of Life” and the ethereal, afterlife reflection “I’ll Be Somewhere.”
The album’s sound quality is sterling. Kimball’s Hamburg Steinway Model D is wonderfully recorded. Sometimes solo piano ventures have a cold characteristic due to microphone placement or other issues, but Kimball’s piano has a naturally warm veneer which adeptly suits his sometimes melancholy and sometimes affectionate compositions. [Don’t be misled if you should Google Richard Kimball—there is another one with more links who is a Goldman Sachs exec, recently divorced and having wild parties written up in the tabloids...Ed.]
Richard Kimball – THE ART OF AGING: When Richard breaks his “bad-boogie-self” out on his keyboard (at about 2:40 & only for a few seconds), on the opener, “Make Hay While The Sun Is Shining“, you’ll hear (right away) why I fell in love with his playing on the first listen… a whole lot of different styles and highly intriguing moments are packed intothis 6:48 gem! The superb left-hand on the intro to my favorite track, “Blackout in Bolivia“, is viewable on YOUTUBE for your pleasure, too. This is some of the most sensitive piano work I’ve heard (or reviewed) this year… totally original sound (which tracks, since they are all originals) that will inspire you whether you’re a piano-nut (like I am) or not. Just under an hour (57:47 is what my player shows) of pure sonic wonder and high-talent. I’m highly impressed, & you will be as well… I give Richard my HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98. Get more information at Richard’sMUSICAL BACKGROUND page. Rotcod Zzaj
The Art of Aging is a collection of original jazz piano solos by Richard KImball. Five of the ten tracks were inspired by original cues Kimball wrote for a chamber music score for the 2000 PBS documentary, Grow Old Along With Me. Kimball himself has had a long and varied career in music as a performer, composer, accompanist, teacher and collaborator. For the past thirty-three years, he has been co-house pianist, along with Brazilian pianist Dom Salvador, under the Brooklyn Bridge at The River Cafe’ playing his unique arrangements of jazz standards and “The Great American Songbook.” With two degrees from Juilliard, Kimball has a thorough understanding of classical music as well as jazz, and his music is both structured and free-flowing, complex yet accessible.
The Art of Aging begins with “Make Hay While the Sun Shines,” a three-part piece that carries a sense of urgency, underscoring the notion that time is wealth. Many of the passages are light and whimsical while others are a bit more serious. “Chaconne for My Sons” is gorgeous. Set in a classical theme and variations form, this slow, deeply emotional piece conveys feelings that may be difficult to put into words - my favorite track! I also really love “I’ll Be Somewhere,” which refers to the idea of an afterlife. Dreamy and reflective, this is music from a soul at peace. “Patricia’s Theme” is a love ballad that begins with a long rubato introduction. The main part of the piece is in a moderate swing rhythm that never loses track of the beautiful opening melody. The title track begins with an easy jazz rhythm that is constantly changing meters. Kimball says this piece is based on a fragment of one of his earliest compositions, making a connection between his past and present. “Blackout in Bolivia” has a lively rhythm on the left hand while the right hand is more exploratory. A sense of urgency propels the piece forward as Kimball tells his story with fingers dancing on the piano keyboard. “The Tree of Life” is another graceful beauty. It becomes more intense as it develops, bringing together two contrasting themes that merge seamlessly. This is another favorite. “Hymn for the Farmer” is written in the form of a 17th century protestant chorale with harmonic materials from the Americana style of the mid-20th century. Slow and somber with lots of open space, it’s a beautiful tribute.
The Art of Aging is an exceptional album from start to finish! It is available from www.warwickinfo.net/rkimball.html. Recommended!
Composer, Pianist, Washington, D.C., 1941
In addition to the piano, during the sixties and seventies, Richard played orchestral contrabass and toured the western states with the University of Utah concert band. Beginning in the sixties, he played bass with various rock, jazz, and Brazilian groups. He also played stints with the Larry Elgart , Sammy Kaye and Tex Beneke Big Bands. Richard also was active in the theatre, writing music for various off-Broadway plays and the venerable Stella --"This is not a democracy!"- Adler Theatre Workshop. During this same period, and through to the present, he recorded and toured with Brazilian groups such as composer/Grammy nominee Thiago de Mello, Afro-Brazilian flutist/composer Lloyd McNeill, the late Latin flutist/composer Mauricio Smith, and the late renowned Brazilian percussionist Dom um Romao.
Richard holds two degrees in composition from the Juilliard School. While there, he studied with American composers Stanley Wolfe, Vittorio Giannini, and the “dean” of American composer teachers, Vincent Persichetti. He received the Alexandre Gretchanninov Memorial Prize in Composition for his String Quartet and was also teaching assistant to composer Luciano Berio, and the jazz arranger/educator Hall Overton (who arranged the famous Monk Carnegie Hall album) and the Italian composer Luciano Berio.
He began his professional teaching at the Juilliard School’s Extension Division, teaching Twentieth Century Music, Literature and Materials of Music, and Composer’s Workshop. He also became the Pre-College Division’s composition teacher for several years both there and at the Manhattan School of Music.
In more recent years, Richard has concentrated his performance work on piano, composing and performing concerts with his own ensemble, playing night club gigs, and accompanying and recording with various vocalists, most notably with jazz singer Vivian Lord. He’s also well known in New York for his thirty-four years as co-house pianist, along with Brazilian pianist Dom Salvador, under the Brooklyn Bridge at The River Café playing his unique arrangements of jazz standards and “The Great American Songbook.”
Richard has been active writing chamber music scores for documentary films, including the music for the late actor Richard Kiley’s last film appearance in “Grow Old Along With Me," produced and directed by Anne Macksoud and John Ankele. In the past few years he also composed several other chamber music scores for public television documentaries highlighting current vital social issues, such as the U.S policy of supplying munitions to poor countries, programs for the elderly, and third world fair trade issues.
In 1986 Richard entered the field of aviation as an avocation and became active conducting volunteer flights for the humanitarian organization AngelFlight and the environmental volunteer pilot group, LightHawk.
In 1991, Richard founded a non-profit organization, Amazônia project Inc., which, in cooperation with the International Rotary Club, provided annual volunteer dental/medical visits to selected villages and indigenous settlements along the Amazon River System in the state of Amazônas, Brazil, and it operated until 2002 when the political climate forced an end to freely importing medicines into that country.
In October 2004, he organized his colleagues in the Warwick, New York area, composed extensive music for, and produced “Concert for the Survivors” to raise money for hurricane Katrina victims and also flew volunteers in his airplane to assist the recovery efforts in New Orleans.
Richard began a movement for the eventual establishment of a major center for the arts, to be entitled The Warwick Valley Center for the Arts, all of whose programs would be centered on education. It would include resident performing ensembles and an institute of music, which Richard founded in 2008, and was operating in evenings at Warwick Valley High School under the aegis of Community 2000 (501c3). Its operation was suspended due to the world financial crisis, though plans for the center continue.
Richard lives with his wife, two sons, their standard poodle, a cat and a canary, in the hamlet of New Milford, town of Warwick, New York.