Joe Chambers Landscapes

Joe Chambers


Savant 2140

The reviewing equivalent of this publication’s Blindfold Test is to listen to an album knowing only the title and name of its leader. Taking that approach with veteran drummer Joe Chambers’ Landscapes, one is introduced to a vibraphone-driven four-piece unit à la the Modern Jazz Quartet. It’s a lush ambiance, full of complexity and color. A slinky version of Monk’s “Epistrophy” opens this dynamic album, and is followed by Horace Silver’s “The Outlaw,” which showcases a thoughtfully developed piano solo. Thee sustained vibraphone on “Never Let Me Go” emphasizes the lyrical themes of holding on and the potential pain of loss.Chambers’ strength as a composer is reinforced on “Samba De Maracatu,” which boasts standout solos by Chambers himself. Paul Arslanian’s lovely “Pas De Trois,” Sonny Rollins’ “Airegin,” another Silver number (“Ecaroh”) and Karl Ratzer’s “Underground System”—rechristened “Underground (Railroad) System”—follow. Chambers generously allows the pianist to conclude the album with a solo reading of the title track.
Upon delving into the accompanying material, the big reveal is that this is actually a trio date with Chambers overdubbing the tuned percussion as well as all the other non-rhythm section instruments. And the nearly 10-minute solo piano number? That’s Chambers, too. Landscapes sounds like the fluid live studio recording of four or more musicians, so it’s impressive on multiple levels. —Yoshi Kat

Landscapes: Epistrophy; The Outlaw; Never Let Me Go; Havana; Samba De Maracatu; Pas De Trois; Airegin; Ecaroh; Underground (Railroad) System; Landscapes. (59:58)
Personnel: Joe Chambers, drums, congas, bongos, vibraphone, marimba, synthasizer, piano (10); Rick Germanson, piano (1-9); Ira Coleman, bass (1-9),
Ordering info:

Moving Pictures Orchestra

Joe Chambers Moving Pictures Orchestra

Joe Chambers

Featured in the Raleigh Observer newspaper

In the 1960’s, drummer Joe Chambers recorded for Blue Note Records, backing artists such as trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, tenor saxophonists Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter, vibist Bobby Hutcherson and pianist Andrew Hill. Since 2008, he has been teaching at INC-Wilmington as the Tom Kenan Distinguished Professor of Jazz. He is what you call “credentialed.” With “Joe Chambers Moving Pictures Orchestra” (Savant), recorded live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York, Chambers showcases not only his percussion skills but also his composing and arranging. His writing gives him special insights into ensemble-playing (regarding drive and swing, color, dynamics and accesnts) and soloing. A good example is “Irina,” the second movement of his four-part “moving Pictures Suite,” which he opens with a soft-shoe drum solo, kick-starts various horn section entrances, grooves hard behind soloist Tim Green (alto saxophone) and Greg Gisboert (trumpet) and then builds more excitement with a solo of his own. Chambers’ writing is modern – more like something the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra would play rather than Swing Era bands. He is very good at employing atmospheric dissonance (for example, on the ballad “Ruth,” the suite’s third movement, on which he plays a delicate vibes solo followed by a jagged saxophone section chorus). The concert’s one bow to earlier big band writing is Count Basie’s “Theme from ‘M’ Squad,” which rides comfortably along on Dwayne Burno’s walking bass and features Craig Handy stretching out for a rousing crowd-pleaser tenor saxophone sermon. Vocalist Nicole Guiland appears on a pair of tunes co-composed by the late drummer Max Roach (born in New Land, N.C.): “Lonesome Lover” and “mendacity.” The album ends on a Latin note as Chambers and percussionist Steve Berrios cook on “Clave de Bembe,” the suite’s fourth movement. -Owen Cordle



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