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Joe Chambers: Urban Grooves

Less familiar a name than he should be, Joe Chambers still swings with openness and flair, as evidenced on Urban Grooves (441). The veteran hard-bop drummer delivers an easygoing program here at the helm of a quintet featuring saxophonist Gary Bartz, pianist Eric Reed, percussionist Bobby Sanabria and bassist Rufus Reid. Chambers is, as always, the picture of understatement and taste, and his original tunes-especially the well-traveled ballad “Irina” and frenetic “Afreeka”-shimmer with unselfconscious grace. In fact, the disc sounds best when the ensemble is traveling less-familiar pathways like these. It’s enough to make the plea for a more thoroughly creative program from this soft-spoken heavyweight of small-group jazz.

Originally Published