Joe Chambers was one of the best percussionists during the Golden Age of Blue Note Records in the 1950s and '60s. The drummer played on Freddie Hubbard's Breaking Point, Bobby Hutcherson's Components, Wayne Shorter's Schizophrenia, Andrew Hill's Compulsion and McCoy Tyner's Tender Moments. Around the same time, Chambers began playing piano as well. He reached a turning point in 1970, when he was invited to join Max Roach's new all-percussive unit, M'Boom. He was encouraged to play all manner of percussion instruments.
The Outlaw shows Chambers primarily as a vibraphonist, but he also plays drums, piano, synthesizer programs and marimba. When Chambers is too occupied on the vibes, New York bandleader Bobby Sanabria handles percussion on five of the nine tracks. Much of this album reflects a Latin jazz patina that reminds me of the Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers groove (and they are still a functional, recording unit). Chambers' combo makes less use of horns on this session than Pucho does, though saxophonist Logan Richardson does get an opportunity to shine on soprano for "Escapade."
Two tracks seem to feature a somewhat annoying drum machine, but since none is listed, it must be a synth programming feature. Nicole Gutland appears on two tracks for vocal ("I Think It's Time To Say Goodbye") and vocalese ("Come Back to Me") performances. Chambers performs a mid-tempo version of "In A Sentimental Mood" and pays respects to Vernel Fournier, drummer with the Ahmad Jamal trio, with his own version of "Poinciana." "Bembe" utilizes a rhythm from a Yoruba Santeria ritual, while "Bahia" is a pulsing Brazilian street band peace with Chambers leading the way.
All in all, with some exceptions noted, a most pleasant ride!
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.
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