Combining hip-hop gestures with straight-ahead trends, Joe Chambers pushes the modern mainstream envelope toward broader acceptance. Logan Richardson's alto saxophone and Chambers' vibraphone share most of the lyrical duties on The Outlaw, where Chambers establishes a comfortable groove and never lets go. At times mesmerizing and at times refreshingly pure, the session relies on a powerful, driving rhythmic influence.
Nicole Richardson adds a lovely vocal to "I Think it's Time to Say Goodbye, which is supported by a lightweight rhythm section and synth strings. Chambers demonstrates once again that he's always been a tasteful drummer who takes advantage of every textural alteration possible.
Chambers' vibraphone melodies flow like water through a garden's sunny haven. He offers a beautiful harmonic color throughout the session and shades with lovely melodies. While everything falls into place naturally, it comes as quite a surprise that the ensemble's saxophone would register with such a decidedly different tone and texture. Unlike Chambers' velvety smooth vibraphone timbre, the alto and soprano provide a grainy texture that runs opposite to the leader's direction. This becomes a distraction on "Come Back to Me, where the soprano resembles a snake charmer's tool, and on "The Outlaw, where the alto dances awkwardly around the vibraphone's smooth Latin cascades.
As the album closes with a lovely "Poinciana, you get a pretty good idea of the versatility that Chambers employs on his recordings. He plays vibes and piano here, plus several other instruments elsewhere. Thus, he's able to provide us with a sensible balance of lush harmony, graceful melody, and gentle, underlying rhythms.
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.
Joe Chambers: drums, vibraphone, piano, marimba, synthesizer programs; Nicola Gulland:
voice; Logan Richardson: soprano and alto saxophone; Misha Tsiganov: acoustic and electric
piano; Dwayne Burno: bass; Bobby Sanabria: percussion.