Joe Chambers, Dance Kobina Review
by Jeff Becker
Joe Chambers is releasing his third Blue Note recording as a leader called, Dance Kobina. The album is Chambers continuing to explore the combining of jazz with the music structures and rhythms of Brazil, Argentina, and Africa. Dance Kobina is Chambers’ sixteenth album as a bandleader. As a sideman, Chambers has performed with jazz icons since the 1960s, starting with Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, and Chick Corea, and over the years, his Blue Note Records credits include drumming for Donald Byrd, Sam Rivers, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Andrew Hill, and Bobby Hutcherson albums. For Dance Kobina, Chambers contributes several originals and plays vibes on multiple tracks.
The title track, “Dance Kabina,” has a beautiful samba feel, and pianist Andrés Vial interacts with Chambers to create a powerful solo. This vibrant title track was composed by Vial and featured Congolese percussionist Elli Miller Maboungou on Ngoma drums. In Lingala, a Bantu language spoken in the Congo, ‘kobina’ means ‘to dance,’ and that matches the joyous energy of this performance and composition. The excellent performance also has an intense vibraphone solo by Michael Davidson. The remaining ensemble members for this selection are Caoilainn Power on alto saxophone and Ira Coleman on bass.
“Gazelle Suite” also features vibraphonist Davidson, who really shines amongst the rest of the band on this tune. Power also turns in an elegant saxophone. The feel switches between Latin and swing, yielding the best of both worlds as Chambers’ energy and performance in both styles is exciting and a joy to hear.
Dance Kobina contains various ensembles presenting an outstanding set of Brazilian jazz and modern jazz. Several selections feature Chambers overdubbing his performances on vibraphone and percussion and behind the drum kit. Chambers is a talented and capable composer, performer, and bandleader that effortlessly incorporates jazz with forms and beats of Brazil, Argentina, and Africa.