Joe Chambers: Dance Kobina

The veteran drummer, famous for 1960s sessions with Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson et al, continues to plough the hard-bop furrow with flair

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The percussionist and composer’s greatest work was on such 60s classics as Wayne Shorter’s Etcetera, Joe Henderson’s Mode For Joe, Sam Rivers’ Contours and Andrew Hill’s Compulsion!!!.

Dance Kobina is Joe Chambers’ third Blue Note album as leader, and follows his Samba De Maracatu (2021), exploring connections between jazz, Latin and African music. It presents compelling Chambers originals including Gazelle Suite, Ruth and Caravanserai, as well as covers of Kurt Weill and Joe Henderson.

Two ensembles are featured, one based in New York, the other from Montreal; through multiple tracking, Chambers’ affecting vibraphone playing is heard together with drums. Three of the compositions are by Chambers, and appeared on previous albums. They show the drummer’s compositional talent, and though the material tends towards familiar modal post-bop, the results are very enjoyable and rewarding.

The album opens with Kurt Weill’s This Is New, which Chambers recorded in the 60s with Chick Corea. The title track by pianist Andrés Vial features rhumba rhythms, with Congolese percussionist Elli Miller Maboungou – in Lingala, a Bantu language from the Congo, “kobina” means to dance. It’s played joyously by the Montréal band. City of Saints, the other Vial composition, is a 5/4 nocturne.

The New York ensemble features pianist Richard Germanson and bassist Mark Lewandowski, and with them, the trio track Intermezzo stands out. An impressive release.

Discography
This Is New; Dance Kobina; Ruth; Caravanserai; City Of Saints; Gazelle Suite; Intermezzo; Power To The People; Moon Dancer (47.18)
Caoilainn Power (as); Marvin Carter (ts, as); Andrés Vial, Richard Germanson (p); Michael Davidson (vib); Ira Coleman, Mark Lewandowski (b); Elli Miller Maboungou (Ngoma d); Emilio Valdés (pc); Joe Chambers (d, vib). New York, Montreal, no dates given, but probably early 2020s.
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