Narvin Kimball

Ninety and Still Delivering

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At the time this 1999 CD was recorded, banjoist-singer Narvin Kimball was one of only three active musicians left who had recorded in the 1920s; violinist Claude Williams and vibraphonist Lionel Hampton were the only other survivors since Benny Carter had retired. Kimball, who suffered a stroke in 2000 and was forced to retire, was 90 at the time of this date. He had recorded with Oscar Celestin in 1928, 71 years before. An obscure player, he toured the world with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band during his last few active years. For this set (his only date as a leader), Kimball is joined by a group of much younger (25-32) trad musicians: trumpeter Mark Caparone, trombonist Clint Baker, clarinetist Evan Christopher, pianist Paul Cosentino, bassist Tom Wilson, and drummer Jason Hansen. They stretch out on six standards including a 13-and-a-half-minute version of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." Caparone takes an OK vocal on "St. Louis Blues" while Kimball sings "Closer Walk" and the pop song "Because of You." Despite its charm, Kimball's singing has an excess of vibrato and does not need to be heard more than once. The spontaneous and spirited music is not flawless but it moves along happily with "Weary Blues" and J.C. Higginbotham's "Give Me Your Telephone Number" being the highpoints. Kimball's chordal banjo is fine while the three horn players all have their spots. It definitely has its moments.

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