Joe Chambers: Urban Grooves (2003)
Chambers’ latest release, Urban Groove, is about as good as it gets. An energizing set of standards and originals performed with the likes of Eric Reed, Gary Bartz, and Rufus Reid, Chambers is in top form, showing off his amazing technique not only on drums, but also vibes and marimba. Still, Chambers is careful not to pull too much attention away from his sidemen. Gary Bartz is electrifying throughout, and Eric Reed shines on piano (with a few forays into synth territory). I should say at this point that while I am a fan of both electric piano and organ, I generally despise synthesizers. It is to Reed’s credit that his use of this frequently horrible invention is used in limited and tasteful fashion here.
While the originals are compelling, it is the standards that really stand out, particularly the performances of “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise,” “Sid’s Ahead,” and “In a Sentimental Mood” that appear early on the album. Urban Grooves is a welcome addition to Chambers' discography.
Track Listing: Third Street; Softly as in a Morning Sunrise; Sid's Ahead; In a Sentimental Mood; Stella By Starlight; Surry with the Fringe on Top; Irina; Portia; Afreeka.
Personnel: Joe Chambers, drums, vibraphone and marimba; Gary Bartz, alto and soprano saxophones; Eric Reed, piano and synthesizer; Rufus Reid, bass; Bobby Sanabria, congas, percussions, and drums.
Record Label: 441 Records