Jazz Reviews: Joe Chambers and Andrew Hill

Chambers takes it a little too easy on his latest while legendary pianist Andrew Hill and his band explore with precision and cohesion.

joe chambers album 88 (photo credit: )
joe chambers album 88
(photo credit: )
JOE CHAMBERS The Outlaw Savant Records/Jazz Ear Joe Chambers has been there and done just about everything in the wide expanses of the jazz genre over the past 40 years. Since moving to New York in 1964, the 63-yearold percussionist has worked with an eclectic range of leading jazz figures, such as reedman Eric Dolphy trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, and pianist Andrew Hill. Over the years Chambers has honed his drumming and percussion skills, taking on duties on vibraphone and piano in the process, and gaining a reputation for great accuracy and a strong penchant for swing. His latest effort, however, The Outlaw released on the Savant label is more likely to appeal to the easy listening end of the jazz sector as it wends its way pleasantly between Latinesque rhythms. The album opens with the title track, which launches straight into downtown Havana, Cuba before moving from drums to piano. Chambers adds a sprinkling of bluesy seasoning along the way with just a touch of samba. Chambers' middle-ofthe-road intent comes through clearest on "Tu-Way-Pock-E-Way" as some drum-like synthesizer programming kicks in, followed by Nicole Gutland's commercial, user-friendly vocals on "I Think It's Time To Say Goodbye". Artistically, it's difficult to find The Outlaw's saving graces, but if you're looking for something to smooth out those brow wrinkles after a long hot day at the office, this effort may be just right. ANDREW HILL Time Lines Blue Note/Helicon Andrew Hill, the keyboardist with whom Chambers has recorded, is currently at the opposite end of the artistic continuum from his erstwhile percussionist sideman. This is amply demonstrated in Time Lines, in which he displays innovative genius, great sensitivity, and compositional daring. The eight-track album features a commensurately talented cast. including reedman Greg Tardy, trumpeter Charles Tolliver, bassist John Herbert and drummer Eric McPherson. All enjoy star turns on the CD, and all add much to the sum of this adventurous project. This is the stuff of in-your-face exploration and the work incessantly pulsates with irresistible life forces. The opening track, "Malachi", sets the tone and Hill's fluid and velvety keyboard work puts it all out there in no uncertain terms. His sumptuous ripples and gentle prods are embellished by Tardy's meandering clarinet and Tolliver's bittersweet trumpet coloring. There is excitement everywhere you look and listen in Time Lines. It is also a mark of Hill's laid-back leadership that he allows his cohorts to take over the artistic reins to such a generous degree. While there is a somewhat cerebral aspect to the work, there is an abundance of passion here too. This album is a superb work in which individual brilliance never mitigates the group's cohesion.