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Joe Chambers: Horace To Max

Edward Blanco By

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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.


Track Listing: Asiatic Raes; Ecaroh; Man from South Africa; Mendacity; Portia; Water Babies; Lonesome Lover; Evidence; Afreeka.

Personnel: Joe Chambers: drums (1, 3, 4, 6-8), vibraphone (2-7, 9); marimba (5, 6, 9); Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone (1-6, 8, 9); Xavier Davis: piano (1-6, 8); Dwayne Burno: bass (1-6, 8, 9); Steve Berrios: conga drums (1, 9), drums (2, 5), percussion (3, 6, 8); Nicole Guiland: vocal (4, 7); Helen Sung: piano (7); Richie Goode: bass (7).

Title: Horace to Max | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Savant Records


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