Featured In The Raleigh Observer Newspaper

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: JazzDepot.com