Paul Chambers Sextet – Whims Of Chambers – Blue Note/Analogue Productions

by | Sep 16, 2010 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Paul Chambers Sextet – Whims Of Chambers – Blue Note/Analogue Productions (Mono SACD) CBNJ-1534SA, 38:45 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi]  *****:

(Paul Chambers – bass; Donald Byrd – trumpet; John Coltrane – tenor saxophone; Kenny Burrell – guitar; Horace Silver – piano; “Philly” Joe Jones – drums)

Bassists have rarely assumed the role of bandleader. Primarily, they blend into the rhythm section supporting horns, pianos, and nearly every other instrument. It wasn’t until 1939 that Jimmy Blanton revolutionized the use of bass in Duke Ellington’s band, opening doors for the likes of Ray Brown, Red Mitchell, Oscar Pettiford, Percy Heath, and Paul Chambers.

After moving to Detroit as a teenager, Chambers abandoned baritone horn and became a string bassist. He began training with a bassist in the Detroit Symphony, and worked in assorted student bands. From there, he went on the road with Paul Quinichette, also performing with George Wallington, Joe Roland and the renowned dual trombone combo, Johnson and Winding. A steady gig with Miles Davis not only refined his jazz technique, but introduced him to eventual sextet members, innovative saxophonist John Coltrane and drummer extraordinaire, Philly Joe Jones

The Blue Note session that produced Whims of Chambers would be transcendental. Adding fellow Detroit players, Donald Byrd (trumpet), Kenny Burrell (guitar), and Blue Note rising star Horace Silver (piano), a musical alchemy would emerge. Fierce and relentless, these seven pieces are hard bop masterpieces, showcasing individual brilliance and a discernable cohesion. The opening song, “Omicron’ features rollicking solos from all six members. Philly Joe Jones’ ferocious drumming fuels the chemistry in this energetic, Latin–flavored romp. The title cut, a blues piece, starts with an extended bass line, that subtle relaxes into fluid piano and guitar solos. Coltrane’s composition, “Nita”, swings with a bold arrangement that offers intermittent rhythm breaks around inspired runs on trumpet, tenor sax, guitar and piano.

Possibly the most dynamic track is the scintillating “We Six”. After a dual horn lead intro, trumpet and tenor segue effortlessly, sustaining the unyielding tempo. Chambers demonstrates his deft touch with an amazing bowed solo.

A rare change of place comes on “Dear Ann” a sophisticated slow tempo opus, entwined with a groove oriented texture to the guitar and piano parts. A nimble pizzicato bass gives the song nuance. The total ensemble percolates on “Just ForThe Love”, beginning with Coltrane’s uncanny mixture of dissonance and melody. Subsequent individual play by the rest of the band underscores the groundbreaking harmonics of this all star congregation. The spontaneity of “Tale Of The Fingers” is galvanized by the sharp tuneful piano by Silver and the graceful bowed bass of Chambers.

The abundance of mutual respect and support was essential in making an album that still resonates more than fifty years after its debut. Each of these musicians would develop as dominant musicians, but this cooperative effort stands on its own. The SACD gives the music cleaner, less muddled acoustics, with a penchant for detailed instrument separation.  The ascetic mono fidelity is rendered intact.
TrackList: Omicron; Whims Of Chambers; Nita; We Six; Dear Ann; Tale Of The Fingers; Just For The Love.

—  Robbie Gerson


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