Chuck Vecoli Review

Reviewed by: Chuck Vecoli

CD Review:

by Brad Walseth

Veteran drummer/vibraphonist Joe Chambers has played with many of the greats in his storied career, including Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Andrew Hill, Freddie Hubbard, Charles Mingus and Max Roach (as a member of M’Boom), but has had little opportunity to play the part of leader until recently. On his new recording, From Horace to Max, Chambers pays tribute to Horace Silver and his mentor Max Roach, while also covering songs from Monk, Shorter, Marcus Miller (“Water Babies” and “Portia” both recorded by Miles Davis) and Kenny Dorham (“Asiatic Raes” – recorded by Freddie Hubbard and played frequently by the Horace Silver-era Jazz Messengers). Chambers keeps things pretty straight-ahead, but that doesn’t diminish the excitement of this well-played music. He is joined by tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, bassist Dwayne Burno, pianist Xavier Davis and percussionist Steve Berrios.

An intriguing version of “Asiatic Raes” opens things with Oriental-sounding piano over Afro-Cuban rhythms before catapulting into the the walking middle section – with Burno walking like he is on hot coals heated by Chambers’ propulsive drumming. Great solos by Alexander, Davis and Burno and a kicking arrangement turn this 1960s’ number into a modern classic. Chambers switches over to vibes on Silver’s “Ecaroh” – letting his “M’Boom” bandmate Berrios take the drum chair, and proves to be as masterful on the vibraphones as he is on drums. Gentler than Silver’s version, but with exciting shifts in tempo, this track features gorgeous work from everyone, especially Chambers and Alexander who sounds somewhat like a ‘ 50s era Coltrane. Chambers overdubs his vibes on a stellar new take on Roach’s “Man From South Africa, which features nice solos from pianist Davis and Berrios on percussion, ” while vocalist Nicole Guiland fills the voice duties (previously done by Abbey Lincoln) on “Mendacity” (both from 1961’s Percussion Bittersweet) and does a pleasing job, although her voice lacks the weight and grit of Lincoln’s. “Portia” is removed from the intense introspection of the Miles version, and given new life with Chambers doubling on marimba and vibes on this pleasant arrangement, as well as on the waltzing “Water Babies.” Guiland returns on the entertaining Roach/Lincoln number “Lonesome Lover” – which also features Pittsburgh’s finest bass player Richie Goode and Helen Sung on piano. Thelonious Monk’s jumpy “Evidence” is punched up with great tight ensemble work, and the album ends on a high note with Chambers’ original kalimba-on-marimba-centered “Afreeka.” Besides the interesting new arrangements of these classic tunes and the excellent performances, the album truly benefits from the advances in sound engineering to captivate the listener with its crisp yet warm sound.

CD Review:
Joe Chambers Web Site

  1. No comments yet.

You must be logged in to post a comment.