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Jazz - Released February 26, 2021 | Blue Note Records

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Bebop - Released February 16, 2016 | Savant

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Blue Note Records

This long-anticipated date by drummer Chambers, his first domestic production since the mid-'70s, is the personification of what modern jazz in the '90s can be. Immaculately played and programmed, collectively inspired by brilliant musicianship, and triggered by the creative juices of its fearless leader, the date commands interest throughout, and upon repeated listenings. That's the mark of a truly great recording. Chambers explores many veins of contemporary jazz, from the New Orleans-derived, modern modal "Tu-Way-Pock-E-Way," the Jazz Messenger-ish title track, the darker, modal "Caravanserai," the tearjerker "Ruth," and the more hopeful, upbeat trio finale "Ruthless" to the delicate take on Janet Jackson's "Come Back to Me." The middle section hints at Chambers' polyphonic notions, on the fast samba modification of Andrew Hill's "Catta" (previously recorded on Chambers' '70s Muse/32 Jazz date The Almoravid) retitled "Mariposa," plus a more multi-instrumental focus; there are overdubs of vibes and drums with the trio of astounding pianist Mulgrew Miller and bassist Ira Coleman on Rod Temperton's "Lady in My Life," and more as Chambers duets with himself on drums and vibes for "Circles." Saxophonist Vincent Herring and trumpeter Eddie Henderson are lockstep in harmonic interplay, forming a frontline that is as attractive as any. The rhythm section can do no wrong, and Chambers is right on with every step. In case you hadn't heard, Chambers is one of the all-time greats, as he proves on every track of this exceptional modern jazz date. Footnote: Chambers is also a fine pianist, yet another side that hopefully will come to the forefront on a follow-up that we should not have to wait twenty years for. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Bebop - Released April 20, 2010 | Savant

Joe Chambers is back -- 37 years past his breakthrough solo project, The Almoravid -- with his follow-up to the fine 2006 album The Outlaw. Though the title Horace to Max does signify influences and peers (Horace Silver and Max Roach specifically) Chambers has enjoyed, Miles Davis is also somewhere in between. Playing the drum kit and lots of marimba and vibraphone -- at times overdubbed -- Chambers offers Afrocentric polyrhythms with Latin underpinnings, and loads of hard-swinging jazz. Sonny Rollins is also feted on his great composition "Asiatic Raes," bright as the sun in Latin, off-minor tenor sax from Eric Alexander and swift bop. With the mysterious "Portia" and "Water Babies," a full decade of Davis from his latter period of work is represented in more subtle tones. Nicole Guiland sings faithfully in the stoic, pointed style of Abbey Lincoln during the politically charged "Mendacity" and the pensive "Lonesome Lover," while Thelonious Monk is also recognized during the fleet, staccato-accented version of "Evidence." Alexander is his usual reliable and occasionally brilliant self, with pianist Xavier Davis right there every step of the way. The mallet work of Chambers has been downplayed for decades, but here emphasizes what a complete musician and especially unique arranger he is, not just a drummer or timekeeper. Steve Berrios also deserves credit and high praise as a support drummer and primary percussionist. Though you have to wait until the last track, "Afreeka," to hear Chambers as a composer, it's well worth it in a cooking modal form via bassist Dwayne Burno, which identifies the bandleader's personal style. With complete vision of sound and sensory perception in an African-American perspective, Chambers hits several grand slam home runs on this vital and exciting album that comes highly recommended. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Bebop - Released February 21, 2006 | Savant

Joe Chambers has been known throughout his career mainly as a creative drummer although he has also recorded on piano and keyboards. For The Outlaw, he prefers to be known as a vibraphonist. Chambers proves to be excellent on the vibes without neglecting his other axes. On "Poinciana" he plays all of the instruments and on "Bembe" is only joined by percussionist Bobby Sanabria. Other selections utilize a quintet with the fine if currently obscure saxophonist Logan Richardson. Nicole Guiland takes effective vocals on "Come Back to Me" and "I Think It's Time to Say Goodbye." The music covers a wide range of styles, from hard bop and post-bop explorations to mood pieces, borderline fusion, and Latin jazz. This intriguing and constantly surprising set grows in interest with each listen. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Bebop - Released April 24, 2012 | Savant

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Jazz - Released February 26, 2021 | Blue Note Records

From 1964 until 1971, multi-instrumentalist and composer Joe Chambers was a house drummer at Blue Note. He was featured on seminal recordings by trumpeters Freddie Hubbard and Donald Byrd, saxophonists Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, and Sam Rivers, and pianists McCoy Tyner and Andrew Hill. He also contributed drums and tunes to ten fine outings by vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, including Components, Happenings, and Oblique. The label offered him a leader date, but Chambers was so busy he declined. He later expanded his musical reach to the vibraphone, marimba, piano, and Afro-Latin percussion instruments. He contributed to top-shelf outings by many jazzmen including Charles Mingus, Charles Tolliver, Stanley Cowell, and as a member of Max Roach's M'Boom. In 1998, Blue Note offered him a leader date again and this time Chambers accepted. He released the acclaimed quintet outing Mirrors. In the 2010s, Chambers led sessions for Savant, including 2016's brilliant Landscapes, a piano/bass/drums trio, and maximally yet tastefully adds voluminous overdubs of vibraphone, marimba, and assorted Afro-Latin percussion instruments. The title of 2021's Samba de Maracatu implies a Brazilian jazz album, but isn't one; instead, it reflects the famous samba rhythm birthed in the northern state of Pernambuco, amid the West African diaspora. Alongside bassist Steve Haines and pianist/synthesist Brad Merritt, Chambers puts on a dazzling display of covers, standards, and originals. It opens with a swinging read of the standard "You, The Night and the Music." Chambers' kit propels Merritt's slippery piano while Haines walks the bass before delivering a bright, punchy solo. Chambers' "Circles'' originally appeared on M'Boom's 1984 Soul Note outing Collage. Chambers plays drums, vibes, and Brazilian percussion instruments in an airier presentation that draws heavily on samba. His vibes meet Merritt's keys in colorful harmonic interplay. A version of the title track appeared on Landscapes. Chambers employs its carnival rhythm under an expanded tonal palette on the vibes, buoyed by Merritt's crystalline ostinatos, and Haines' funky, syncopated bassline. Chambers pays tribute to former bosses and mentors with stellar readings of Hutcherson's "Visions" and Horace Silver's "Ecaroh." The set's biggest surprise is "NY State of Mind Rain." It's a mashup of the iconic Nas hit and his own "Mind Rain" from 1978's masterful Double Exposure duo outing with organist Larry Young. (Nas sampled Chambers' drums from the cut on his original). The trio adds new harmonic elements and a hard bop rhythm to hip-hop beats and savvy, jazzy rapping from MC Parrain. The set closes with Wayne Shorter's "Rio," the trio's most intuitive and intimate interaction, as they evolve the rhythm from a languid 4/4 to shimmering, danceable, lyrical bossa. The intricate dialogue between Haines and Chambers is so intimate it claims the listener's attention. Samba de Maracatu is simply the state of rhythm master Chambers' mind at this moment. He mines the music of the past without nostalgia, and uses it to inform his own evolutionary artistic present with elegance, insight, and masterful musicality. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | Candid Productions

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Jazz - Released August 19, 2008 | Porter Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1973 | Savoy