Wednesday, July 7, 1999


Posted By on Wed, Jul 7, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Drummer Joe Chambers made a name for himself during the ’60s by laying down the rhythmic landscape for such jazz musicians as Freddie Hubbard and Bobby Hutcherson. As a mainstay on the jazz scene, Chambers has only put out two albums under his own name. This small output doesn’t adequately capture the breadth of his talent or diminish his stellar musicianship. In fact, he has crafted a style of playing that’s minimalistic and unlike the other drummers of his generation. He caresses the drums instead of attacking them. His unique approach shines brilliantly on this new album.

Mirrors opens with "Tu-Way-Pock-E-Way," which is named after a group of African-Americans who play in the big New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. It has the feel of a traditional New Orleans funeral march when it starts out melancholic, but by the end the tempo has changed and the tune has a more joyous quality. Saxophonist Vincent Herring and pianist Mulgrew Miller make this number hit home with their solos. They flow and floor, and Chambers is right behind them providing a frame for their beautiful playing.

Chambers turns the title tune, "Mirrors," from a ballad to a midswing number. Here, trumpeter Eddie Henderson shows why he’s an expert lyricist as he blows with tonal clarity and precision. The chemistry throughout is tight and the musicians don’t waste time trying to outblow each other. Chambers adds two pop tunes to the album – "Lady in My Life" and "Come Back to Me" – on which he moves from drums to vibes and we get to hear his musical alter-ego: On the drums, his licks are soft like a tap dancer, but on the vibes he plays with color and alacrity.

Mirrors embodies the essential pieces that make an engaging jazz record. The improvisation is intelligible, the solos slamming and Chambers doesn’t overplay his sidemen. It works because he’s an unselfish leader who prefers to function behind the scenes.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Charles L. Latimer

Read the Digital Print Issue

April 7, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation