Joe Chambers: Samba De Maracatu

Chris May BY

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Joe Chambers: Samba De Maracatu
Drummer Joe Chambers was unusual among the drummers who emerged on the Blue Note label in the mid 1960s in that not only did he generate a powerful beat, he wrote strong tunes, too. He played on, and often composed pieces for, albums by such Blue Note luminaries as saxophonists Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and pianists McCoy Tyner and Andrew Hill, among others. From 1970, with the decline of Blue Note, Chambers led a peripatetic existence on labels including Atlantic, Strata-East, Muse and Freedom, contributing to first-rank albums by bassist Charles Mingus, trumpeter Charles Tolliver, pianist Stanley Cowell and fellow drummer Max Roach's percussion ensemble, M'Boom. Always in demand for sessions, Chambers did not get around to recording under his own name until 1974, when he made the flawed but venturesome spiritual-jazz concept album The Almoravid (Muse) .

Chambers returned to Blue Note in 1998, with the modal set Mirrors. The lively and engaging Samba de Maracatu is his second own-name album for the label and this time Chambers plays not just kit drums but also overdubs vibraphone and a battery of percussion instruments, as he did on his most recent release, Landscapes (Savant, 2016). Chambers credits part of the inspiration for both albums to pianist Bill Evans' groundbreaking Conversations With Myself (Verve, 1963), one of the first jazz albums to use extensive overdubbing.

Maracatu is a samba rhythm thought to have originated in the West African-diaspora of northern Brazil, and while Samba de Maracatu is not a full-on Brazilian jazz album, it does feature Brazilian percussion and draws on samba and bossa nova. Chambers' "Circles," which he first recorded with M'Boom, uses a samba rhythm, and Wayne Shorter's "Rio" starts in straight-ahead four-four before morphing into bossa nova. Other covers include Bobby Hutcherson's "Visions," Horace Silver's "Ecorah" and Jay Livingston and Ray Evans' "Never Let Me Go," which has a guest spot from New Orleans singer Stephanie Jordan.

Chambers demonstrates an affinity with hip hop on the penultimate track, "New York State Of Mind Rain," a mash-up of Nas' 1994 hit "N.Y. State Of Mind," which sampled portions of Chambers' "Mind Rain" (taken from his 1978 Muse album, Double Exposure). Parrain's lyrics link the two songs over a beat which fluctuates between in-the-tradition jazz swing and hip-hot backbeat. You are, truly, as young as you feel.

Track Listing

You And The Night And The Music; Circles; Samba De Maracatu; Visions; Never Let Me Go; Sabah El Nur; Ecaroh; New York State Of Mind Rain; Rio.


Joe Chambers: drums; Brad Merritt: piano; Steve Haines: bass, acoustic; Stephanie Jordan: voice / vocals; MC Parrain: voice / vocals.

Additional Instrumentation

Joe Chambers: vibraphone, conga drums, claves, guiro, cowbell, surdo, repinique, shakere, quica; Brad Merritt: synthesizer.

Album information

Title: Samba De Maracatu | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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