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Joe Chambers: The Outlaw

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Chambers, drummer of choice among cutting-edge members of the Blue Note roster in the ’60s, has reinvented himself as a mallets player. Actually, he began the transition in the ’70s with M’Boom, the Max Roach-led percussion ensemble. This album is more notable for his contemporary writing and arranging skills than for extended solos.

Employing alto and soprano saxophonist Logan Richardson, acoustic and electric pianist Misha Tsiganov, bassist Dwayne Burno and percussionist Bobby Sanabria, with vocalist Nicole Guiland on two cuts, Chambers layers and laces the music with Latin and pop-music grooves and synthesized sounds. Listed as playing vibes, marimba and drums and contributing synthesizer programs and a few originals, he solos competently on vibes, with an approach reminiscent of Bobby Hutcherson.

His arrangements rhythmically update familiar and not-so-familiar compositions from the past-the title tune by Horace Silver, Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood,” Kenny Dorham’s “Escapade” and the standard “Poinciana”-often for a contemporary dance feel. On “Come Back to Me,” which Chambers initially caught on a Janet Jackson video, there are vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Four Freshmen and the Hi-Lo’s. While this album isn’t my favorite style of jazz, it is expertly crafted and agreeably varied.