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Joe Chambers: Mirrors

Jim Santella By

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Drummer Joe Chambers, 56, recorded his first Blue Note sessions as a youthful twenty year old, deeply immersed in the New York City jazz scene. While the 1960s were healthy years for the drummer’s professional development, the decade included many distractions for the jazz world. Fusion with rock music and the electronic revolution in equipment introduced many changes and several rifts. The music survived to witness its ‘90s comeback and usher in a generation of young lions. Leaders with whom Chambers worked and recorded in his early years include Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, and Chick Corea. They’ve survived the changes as well, and each of them has remained true to his original ideas. Fred Jung’s interview with Joe Chambers contains a revealing look at the drummer’s spirit and professional goals; see the commentary at http://www.allaboutjazz.com/pocket.htm .

Seven of the nine pieces are the leader’s compositions. The two exceptions are pop favorites "Lady in My Life" and "Come Back to Me." "Mirrors" takes modern mainstream to its core with ride cymbal, walking bass, and solos from tenor saxophone, trumpet, piano & bass. "Caravanserai" issues a Middle Eastern mood, while "Mariposa" clears the air with a fast-moving arrangement led by Vincent Herring’s soprano sax. The quintet moves lightly but quickly, and in all directions at once - like a butterfly. As the ending nears, Chambers steps up to solo and the piece appears to have attracted a whole swarm of tiny butterflies. For "Circles" and "Lady in My Life" the leader adds vibraphone to the mix. His lyrical two-mallet approach is a little too percussive for the ballad. It’s more appropriate on "Circles," however, as Chambers gives the ensemble a rest and multi-tracks two vibraphones and drum set to provide a syncopated percussion adventure that’s similar to the work he’s done with Max Roach and M’Boom. There’s no hidden connection between "Ruth" and "Ruthless." One is a soft modal ballad featuring Herring’s alto and tempered by brushes and a bass interlude. The other is at the core of straight-ahead jazz, driven hard and culminating in fours with the drummer. Highly Recommended.

Track Listing: Tu-Way-Pock-E-Way; Mirrors; Caravanserai; Ruth; Mariposa; Lady in My Life; Circles; Come Back to Me; Ruthless.

Personnel: Joe Chambers- drums, vibraphone; Mulgrew Miller- piano; Ira Coleman- bass; Vincent Herring- tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Eddie Henderson- trumpet.

Title: Mirrors | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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