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Joe Chambers, “Horace to Max” (Savant). Author and title says it all about this CD: a veteran drummer — and sometime vibraphonist — heard on many important recordings the past 40-plus years issuing a recording of his own, one of only a few that he has issued as a leader, paying homage to a legendary figure, pianist Horace Silver, and the bandleader’s mentor, the late Max Roach, iconic master drummer-percussionist. For the occasion, as Chambers drives his band through a bebop- and hard-bop-tinged and dense but soulful repertoire, he enlisted some of the best of the present-day younger but veteran modal monsters: tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianists Xavier Davis and Helen Sung, bassists Dwayne Burno and Richie Goods, vocalist Nicole Guiland and slightly older percussionist Steve Berrios.
Joe Chambers‘ discography and all one can do is just welcome a new release with respect and honor to the drummer/percussionist who has played incredibly well throughout the years. Horace To Max (Savant) is an album of a man who you can immediate detect just by the way he plays. His band here features Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Helen Sung (piano), Xavier Davis (piano), <>B (percussion, drums), Richie Goode (bass), Dwayne Burno (bass), and vocalist Nicole Guiland.
True to the title, Chambers and friends honor the music and lives of Horace Silver and Max Roach by covering such classics as “Lonesoem Lover”, “Mandacity”, “Man From South Africa”, and “Ecaroh”, where you feel as if you’ve almost traveled back in time to a place in time when these songs were first recorded. There is a sense of elegance that makes jazz… well, “jazz”, it’s the kind of jazz I’m attracted to because of how it sounds and the kind emotions it helps create, in me or in others. Alexander’s solo in “Ecaroh” is brilliant as Davis’ piano accompaniment makes it sound as if they are on the same page, knowing the target and emphasis, and knowing how to get their in their own stylized ways.
Joe Chambers – Horace to Max – Savant SCD 2107, 49:54 ****:
(Joe Chambers – drums, vibes, marimba, producer; Eric Alexander – tenor saxophone; Xavier Davis – piano; Dwayne Burno – bass; Steve Berrios – percussion, drums; Nicole Guiland – voice (tracks 4 & 7); Helen Sung – piano (track 7); Richie Goode – bass (track 7))
Joe Chambers started to gig professionally in the early 1960s after he arrived in the Big Apple, but despite his influence on one or more generations of drummers, he has never had the recognition of artists with a higher stature such as Art Blakey, Tony Williams or Buddy Rich. But among fellow musicians, critics and stalwart fans the drummer, pianist, vibraphonist and composer is notable for his constancy, reliability and creativity.
On Chambers’ second album for the Savant label, Horace to Max, Chambers offers tribute to fallen heroes, lost friends and peers. With his quintet that includes tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Dwayne Burno and percussionist Steve Berrios – plus three guests – Chambers runs through nine tracks totaling 50 minutes that ranges from bop to Afro-Cuban to two vocal cuts (courtesy of Nicole Guiland).
Throughout, Chambers swings and exhibits his substantial chops on drums, marimba and vibes, often overdubbing over his own contributions. He’s aptly abetted by Berrios and together the two keep the percussion elements upfront and vibrant.
Chambers began an association with Max Roach in 1970 as a charter member of the innovative ensemble M’Boom, which gave Chambers insights into composition, the business side of music and the dynamics of using multiple percussive instruments. Chambers devotes remembrance of his comrade and mentor, who passed away in 2007, with three specific pieces, although Roach’s spirit and drive is hinted at on nearly all the material. Up first is Roach’s “Man from South Africa,” an energetic 7/8 number that includes a rousing Alexander tenor sax solo and Berrios’ simmering hand percussion. Taking a cue from what he learned from Roach, Chambers makes the tumbling rendition feel like it was cut in 2/4 time, affording a sense of accessibility. Vocalist Nicole Guiland appears on two other Roach tunes. On the still-relevant and sharply political “Mendacity” Guiland effectively echoes Abbey Lincoln’s original voicing, while Alexander presents a soulful solo that is less pleading but no less pleasing than Eric Dolphy’s effort on the same song. Chambers commences on vibes and then moves to his drum kit for a brisk break. Guiland is joined by pianist Helen Sung and bassist Richie Goode on another Roach track, “Lonesome Lover,” which also began life as a vehicle for Abbey Lincoln. Chambers’ vibes and Sung’s piano superbly combine forces and Guiland appreciably escalates her emotional state as the composition progresses.
Other highlights include a boisterous interpretation of Thelonius Monk’s “Evidence,” also done by Roach, which features a new intro and invigorating offerings from Chambers and Davis. Two tunes connected with Miles Davis are equally memorable: Marcus Miller’s evocative “Portia,” from Davis’ release Tutu, has Chambers overdubbing marimba and vibes, while Wayne Shorter’s “Water Babies,” found on the Davis compilation of the same name, is fronted by a potent tenor sax and vibes interaction.
1. Asiatic Raes
3. Man from South Africa
6. Water Babies
7. Lonesome Lover
Pianist Davis sets up Chamber’s strong stick work on Monk’s classic “Evidence” in a brisk but brief treatment of the standard and ends the album in percussive manner using Berrios on the drums and congas. The finale “Afreeka” enjoys another marked performance on the vibes with more overdubbed work on the marimba as a lasting reminder of this artist’s versatility as a musician. An unquestioned talent who should not be defined by his mastery of the drums alone, Chambers cements his legacy as one of the most influential musicians of our time with a remarkable multi-instrumental performance on Horace To Max. Using a mainstream approach to an all around contemporary jazz sound, Joe Chambers manages to speak with different voices all saying the same thing: this is superb jazz—the kind of music no doubt, Horace Silver and Max Roach would definitely be part of.
Track listing: Asiatic Raes; Ecaroh; Man from South Africa; Mendacity; Porta; Water Babies; Lonesome Lover; Evidence; Afreeka.
Personnel: Joe Chambers: drums, vibes, marimba; Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Xavier Davis: piano; Dwayne Burno: bass; Steve Berrios: percussion, drums; Helen Sung: piano (7); Richie Goode: bass (7); Nicole Guiland: vocals (4, 7).
CD Review: http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=36675
By Edward Blanco
In this follow up to the critically-acclaimed The Outlaw (Savant 2006) recording, Joe Chambers tips his hat to colleagues Horace Silver and Max Roach with Horace To Max, paying tribute to mentor Roach and recognizing Silver as one of the most important composers of the post-bop era of jazz. A highly-regarded session drummer of the ’60s appearing on many of Blue Note’s greatest jazz recordings, Chambers builds on the foundation of The Outlaw–where he was featured prominently on mallet instruments as well as the drums–performing here on the vibes and marimba. While featuring standards from Kenny Dorham, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller and Thelonious Monk, the repertoire includes three charts from Roach and one from Silver covering the the theme of the album.
Though technically not truly a “drummers” disc–by being overly percussive in nature–Chambers delivers his fair share of drum solos and includes Steve Berrios on percussion as part of the personnel. It is Berrios who introduces the opening “Asiatic Raes” on the congas accompanied by the drummer in what is in fact a dicey percussion-driven number. Exhibiting considerable chops on the vibes, Chambers crafts a warm and sensitive rendition of Silver’s gorgeous “Ecaroh” featuring tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and Xavier Davis on piano.
Vocalist Nicole Guiland appears on a couple of pieces beginning with “Mendacity,” a tune associated with both Roach and Abbey Lincoln and then again on “Lonesome Lover” featuring a sparkling overdubbed performance on the vibes. Saxophonist Alexander is especially expressive on “Man From South Africa” and demonstrates why he is considered one of the finest reed man in the business with his take of Wayne Shorter’s “Water Babies.”
Pianist Davis sets up Chamber’s strong stick work on Monk’s classic “Evidence” in a brisk but brief treatment of the standard and ends the album in percussive manner using Berrios on the drums and congas. The finale “Afreeka” enjoys another marked performance on the vibes with more overdubbed work on the marimba as a lasting reminder of this artist’s versatility as a musician. An unquestioned talent who should not be defined by his mastery of the drums alone, Chambers cements his legacy as one of the most influential musicians of our time with a remarkable multi-instrumental performance on Horace To Max. Using a mainstream approach to an all around contemporary jazz sound, Joe Chambers manages to speak with different voices all saying the same thing: this is superb jazz–the kind of music no doubt, Horace Silver and Max Roach would definitely be part of.
Buy Joe Chambers Music
CD Review: http://www.somethingelsereviews.com/2010/04/more-highnote-high-jinks-wallace-roney.html
Joe Chambers Horace to Max
His first album in four years and his second for the Savant label (sister label of HighNote), Joe Chambers’ album title pays homage to Max Roach and Horace Silver, one for whom he was closely associated with directly (Roach) and the other with whom he was closely associated with that person’s well-known sidemen (Silver). For this album full of pure post-bop goodness, Chambers himself chooses prominent sideman of the current generation, such as Xavier Davis (piano) and Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone).
As you might expect, there are Horace and Max tunes in here—three from Roach, one from Silver—but Chambers also tackles tunes from Shorter, Monk and Kenny Dorham, as well as his own originals. The straightforward arrangements on these songs don’t offer exciting new revelations, the treasures of this record are found in the firm execution and quiet confidence of the musicians involved. Chambers the Vibes Player reminds me some of latter period Bobby Hutcherson, one of the many cats Chambers contributed his drumming for on classic records. And Chambers can still drum like a champ; his style remains in the same vicinity as Roy Haynes. Nicole Guiland contributes vocals for a couple of tracks, and if torch singing is your thing, there’s nothing not to like about that. The best cover of the batch is Marcus Miller’s “Portia,” first appearing on Miles Davis’ Tutu. Stripped of its over-produced veneer, Chambers finds the beauty of its mysterious, moody melody (and Xavier Davis contributes a fine piano solo).
In contrast to Wallace Roney’s CD cover, Chambers’ looks just like one of this classic Blue Note album covers. The other difference is that the music roughly matches the cover. Good thing.
Joe Chambers Music for Sale