Home » Jazz Musicians » Joe Chambers

Joe Chambers

Born and raised near Philadelphia to a musical family, Joe Chambers heard not only the rock and roll of Louis Jordan and Slim Gaillard, but the classical of Vivaldi, Wagner, Beethoven and Mahler. Drums came early. "I think an instrument picks you. I used to play on post and pans when I was little. I was setting them up like a kit at four years of age, so the instincts were there."

More taken with Lester Young and Lionel Hampton than Little Richard, Chambers nonetheless soon joined a band playing all the R&B hits of the day. "We played 'house rock,' horn players walking the bar like Big Jay McNeely and Tiny Bradshaw. But then I started hearing esoteric jazz like Miles Davis, and that grabbed me. When I heard that at age 13, immediately I was hooked."

Chambers' parents also played a big role in his musical vision, and prompted him to learn more. "The level of music that they listened to compared to today was just incredible, in terms of popular culture. Bebop is the most revolutionary period in American music. I call it the era when drummers freed themselves, from Jo Jones to Kenny Clarke to Max Roach.

Preachers used to preach against jazz. Then the people stopped dancing, killing the big bands. Bebop moved jazz from folkoric to a more cult-oriented and intellectual sound. That's why R&B came in. There was a need for more proletarian music. Bebop became cult music. It was a revolutionary time. I witnessed all of that."

Earning his undergrad degree in music from the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, by age twenty-two Chambers had cut his first session with Freddie Hubbard's Breaking Point album. The snowball began , from the aforementioned recording sessions to road work with Harold Land, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Eric Dolphy, and Dizzy Gillespie.

A member of the '60s fraternity that recorded some of Blue Note's greatest music, Joe Chambers can lay claim to a place alongside such innovative artists as Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and Bobby Hutcherson. Chambers' intense drumming, a trademark blend of cymbal- driven forward motion, deep rhythmic continuity, and explosive creativity, graced many landmark albums which fostered one of the most fertile eras in recent jazz memory. Chambers' credits include Hubbard's Breaking Point, Hutcherson's Components, Shorter's Schizophrenia and Etcetra, Hill's Compulsion, and Tyner's Tender Moments, as well as Archie Shepp's New Thing at Newport, Charles Mingus' Like a Bird, and Chick Corea's Tones for Joan's Bones and many others.

Read more

Tags

13
Album Review

Alan Shorter: Mephistopholes To Orgasm Revisited

Read "Mephistopholes To Orgasm Revisited" reviewed by Chris May


It is often said of a musician, be they alive or no longer with us, that they deserve to be better known. This is emphatically true of the wayward trumpeter and composer Alan Shorter, who was overshadowed during his lifetime by his brother, Wayne Shorter, and who continues to be passed over today in 2024. Some responsibility for his obscurity lies with Alan Shorter himself. Known as Doc Strange to his teenage schoolmates in Newark, New Jersey, ...

1
Interview

A Conversation with Joe Chambers

Read "A Conversation with Joe Chambers" reviewed by AAJ Staff


This interview was first published at All About Jazz on February 1999. We have always been quite puzzled as to why a musician that has worked alongside Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson, Sam Rivers, Wayne Shorter, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Tommy Flanagan, Charles Mingus, and Chick Corea would only have a handful of recordings available as a leader. So when we got the opportunity to speak to Joe Chambers about his new Blue ...

2
Radio & Podcasts

Sacred & Profane

Read "Sacred & Profane" reviewed by Michael Ambrosino


No sacred cows here. And the only profanity you'll hear is the jazz police complaining about so much music breaking their archaic rules. On this episode of Currents we feature Joe Chambers, Eric Reed, Bobby Sanabria, Matt Ulery, Lauren Henderson, Kendrick Scott, Joe Farnsworth, Snarky Puppy, Leon Foster Thomas, Vince Mendoza, Alvaro Rojas and Sanah Kadoura. ...

15
Liner Notes

Joe Chambers: Moving Pictures Orchestra: Live at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola

Read "Joe Chambers: Moving Pictures Orchestra: Live at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola" reviewed by John Kelman


It's one thing to have an established `place in the jazz pantheon, another to continue redefining that position, long after others might be content to rest on their laurels. Joe Chambers' work behind the drum kit with artists including Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Charles Mingus, and McCoy Tyner has already ensured a prominent place in jazz history. His output as a leader may be small, but he's delivered two outstanding Savant recordings in 2006's The Outlaw ...

4
Liner Notes

Heiner Stadler: Brains on Fire

Read "Heiner Stadler: Brains on Fire" reviewed by Howard Mandel


Brains on Fire fuels reflection on the past and response in the present. These eight extraordinary extended tracks, recorded in unusual conjunctions of master jazz improvisers instigated by composer/pianist Heiner Stadler for sessions held from 1966 through 1974, are alive with the passions of that era celebrating large, original works stretching the bounds of even the most ambitious music come before. As Stadler and his cadre of fully collaborative, creative interpreters brought immense smarts, skills and sensibilities besides ...

10
Play This!

Joe Chambers: Dance Kobina

Read "Joe Chambers: Dance Kobina" reviewed by Marc Myers


Joe Chambers' Dance Kobina (Blue Note, 2023) proves once again that the 80-year-old percussionist still has it. The album is superb. What's most beautiful about the album and Chambers's playing is that he has retained the flavors of many totemic greats he has played with over the decades. Produced and arranged by Chambers, the album features him backed by a range of players, depending on the song's rhythmic and modal mood. Click Play and enjoy! ...

10
Album Review

Joe Chambers: Dance Kobina

Read "Dance Kobina" reviewed by Chris May


Drummer, composer and sometime vibraphonist Joe Chambers secured his place in jazz history going on six decades ago, though you might not guess it from listening to this album. In the mid-1960s, he was the drummer on a string of historic Blue Note albums recorded by Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter and Bobby Hutcherson, among others, and also on a series of important albums Archie Shepp made for Impulse!, including the landmark Fire Music (1965). Given the ...

Read more articles
1

Recording

Joe Chambers: Dance Kobina

Joe Chambers: Dance Kobina

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Drummer Joe Chambers is best known for playing on a long list of critically acclaimed Blue Note jazz albums in the 1960s. These include Joe Henderson's Mode for Joe; Freddie Hubbard's Breaking Point; Dialogue, Components, Happenings and Total Eclipse by Bobby Hutcherson; Tender Moments by McCoy Tyner; Andrew!!! and Compulsion!!! by Andrew Hill as well as All Seeing Eye, Adam's Apple and Schizophrenia by Wayne Shorter. He also played on Chick Corea's Tones For Joan's Bones, Woody Shaw's In the ...

Recording

Joe Chambers: Samba de Maracatu

Joe Chambers: Samba de Maracatu

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Joe Chambers is one of the most prolific and intriguing jazz drummers and jazz songwriters working today. He's also a superb vibraphonist and percussionist, and he has recorded on piano. Chambers came up in the mid-1960s as an in-demand sideman for the Blue Note label. His first album date was on Freddie Hubbard's Breaking Point! in 1964. The list of Blue Note albums that followed is staggering—three with Andrew Hill, 10 with Bobby Hutcherson, two with Joe Henderson, four with ...

Performance / Tour

Grammy-nominated Jazz Great Joe Chambers To Appear At The NCCU Jazz Festival On November 17, 2013

Grammy-nominated Jazz Great Joe Chambers To Appear At The NCCU Jazz Festival On November 17, 2013

Source: Larry Reni Thomas

By Larry Reni Thomas “Retire? You don't retire from jazz. Some cats have died on the bandstand," said drummer and educator Joe Chambers, during a phone interview from his home in Wilmington, North Carolina. “By the same token. I don't have the desire to play the drums behind anybody that's living today, with the possible exception of McCoy Tyner. All the cats I would want to play behind are all dead. I am tired of playing drums. I am writing ...

Radio

The Joe Chambers Radio Special On WCOM-FM On November 17, 2013!

The Joe Chambers Radio Special On WCOM-FM On November 17, 2013!

Source: Larry Reni Thomas

Listen to “Sunday Night Jazz" November 17, 2013, 9pm-12mid, on WCOM-FM, 103.5 FM, for THE JOE CHAMBERS RADIO SPECIAL, a three hour long program, featuring Chambers's music and an interview with the twice Grammy-nominated legendary musician, composer and educator. Chambers has recorded as a sideman, a drummer/percussionist/vibraphonist, and a leader on more than 500 albums and CDs, and has performed with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillispie, and others, Joe is scheduled to talk about his recent teaching projects, including ...

142

Performance / Tour

Joe Chambers' "Moving Pictures" Orchestra, September 13-18 at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola

Joe Chambers' "Moving Pictures" Orchestra, September 13-18 at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola

Source: Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

Joe Chambers' “Moving Pictures" Orchestra, September, 13-18, 2011 Featuring: Conrad Herwig Craig Handy, Xavier Davis, Dwayne Burno, Steve Berrios Where: Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, Broadway at 60th St. New York, NY Phone: 212-258-9595 The Centerpiece for the orchestra is the commissioned composition “Moving Pictures." a four movement suite composed and premiered for the Lincoln Center Orchestra in March of 2003. This suite was conceived as a kind of Concerto for Drums (percussion) and Orchestra, Synthesizing polyrhythms, “straight ahead" swing , ...

127

Recording

More Highnote High Jinks! Wallace Roney and Joe Chambers Drop New Releases (2010)

More Highnote High Jinks! Wallace Roney and Joe Chambers Drop New Releases (2010)

Source: Something Else!

By PicoLast Tuesday, HighNote Records furnished two new CD's, each by established veterans of the jazz scene. Look on the back of just about any classic Blue Note album from the 60s, and you're likely to see Joe Chambers' name listed as the drummer. And while there's no notable drum solos to be found on those records, his sweet, subtle style helped to shape the Blue Note Sound as much as Rudy Van Gelder's production and the visionary ...

234

Recording

Joe Chambers - Horace to Max (Savant)

Joe Chambers - Horace to Max (Savant)

Source: Master of a Small House

The arc of drummer Joe Chambers' recording career hasn't matched the magnitude of his merit until relatively recently. Blue Note used him in a sideman capacity on a number of its seminal Sixties sessions, but never tapped him for the leader's chair until decades later and then summarily dropped him after just a single album. A checkered stint for Muse in the Seventies suffered alternately from over-ambitiousness and date-stamping catering to commercial concerns. Enter Savant in 2006 and the release ...

199

Performance / Tour

M'boom, World Saxophone Quartet at Birdland Jan. 19-23 + World Tour

M'boom, World Saxophone Quartet at Birdland Jan. 19-23 + World Tour

Source: Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

M'Boom, World Saxophone Quartet 2010 tour Tour dates New York City: Birdland, 44th Street, Jan. 19-23, 2010 Milan, Italy: Feb. 14, 2010 Paris, France: Feb. 16, 2010 Hamburg, Germany: Feb. 18-19, 2010 Nearly three decades have passed since that glorious 1981 evening, when an audience of three thousand gathered in the cathedral of St. John the Divine to hear what Max Roach called a “Grand Collaboration": a concert by M'Boom and the ...

288

Performance / Tour

Joe Chambers & His "Outlaw Band" at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola

Joe Chambers & His "Outlaw Band" at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola

Source: All About Jazz

At Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (JALC) has taken Jazz up, and out of the basement, and into ‘Heaven, on the Fifth Floor’. With incredible views of New York City, ‘state of the Art’ acoustics, and stylishly laid-back elegance; it is an unforgettable experience….. On Tuesday July 14th one of the most notable Drummers & Percussionists of his generation, who is also a “Distinguished Professor of Jazz” at U.N.C.W., brings his “Outlaw Band” into “Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola”, that ‘Percussionists Percussionist’; ...

135

Event

Joe Chambers: A Tribute to Max Roach

Joe Chambers: A Tribute to Max Roach

Source: All About Jazz

Iridium Jazz Club, located at 1650 Broadway (at 51st Street) is proud to present its' tribute to the legendary Percussionist, Drummer and Composer, Max Roach; Thursday June 5th through Sunday June 8th 2008, with two shows nightly at 8:30 PM and 10:30 PM. Saturday features a very special Percussionist who had a special relationship with Max Roach, being a charter member of Max's all percussion ensemble “M'Boom Re-Percussion", formed in 1970, this dynamic Percussionist contributed many seminal compositions and arrangements ...

Photos

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Dance Kobina

Blue Note Records
2022

buy

Samba De Maracatu

Blue Note Records
2021

buy

Brains on Fire

Labor Records
2012

buy

Moving Pictures...

Savant Records
2012

buy

Similar

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.