Joe Chambers: The Outlaw (2006)
The version of the Janet Jackson hit "Come Back To Me doesn't add anything to the original. With its electronic instrumentation and wordless female vocals, the track almost sounds like karaoke backing. The twinkling keyboards remind me of a soundtrack to a workplace safety video.
Vibes tend to work best when paired with knotty, almost off-kilter backing. When played with overly slick arrangements, they can seem too sweet and dulcet. "Bembe is one of the more successful tracks, framing the vibes over a dense percussion section with prominent dry shakers roughing away the shiny edges. The minimalism of this track is a direction which Chambers might have pursued with some success. Even the synthesizers that creep in are restrained enough to sound slightly ominous, instead of simply cheap.
Joe Chambers deserves credit for exploring new avenues, but more than a few of them turn out to be dead ends. His playing is expert as usual, but the arrangements and instrumentation are poorly conceived.
Track Listing: The Outlaw; Tu-Way-Pock-E-Way; Come Back To Me; I Think It's Time To Say Goodbye; In A Sentimental Mood; Bembe; Escapade; Bahia; Poinciana.
Personnel: Joe Chambers: drums, vibraphone, piano, marimba, synthesizer programs, leader; Nicole Guiland: voice (3,4); Logan Richardson: soprano and alto saxophone (4,6,9); Misha Tsiganov: acoustic and electric piano (except 6,9); Dwayne Burno: bass (except 6,9); Bobby Sanabria: percussion (except 4,7,9).
Record Label: Savant Records