September 23, 2003
Jazz, Hard Bop

Album Review

Paul Chambers finally receives the Mosaic Select treatment and there's a surprise tossed in with his catalog for fans and connoisseurs: his material recorded for the Transition label. Also included on the Paul Chambers set are the albums Chambers' Music and Whims of Chambers from 1956 and Bass on Top and The Paul Chambers Quintet from 1957. Musicians on these dates ran the gamut from Elvin Jones to Donald Byrd, Clifford Jordan, Horace Silver, Kenny Burrell, Hank Jones, and Art Taylor -- an overwhelming number of fellow Detroiters. There are some other odds and ends as well, but most importantly, the Transition material will be of prime interest to John Coltrane fans. "Trane's Strain," an 11-minute legato orgy, was recorded and released on a Transition sampler called Jazz in Translation. It features Chambers, Coltrane, Pepper Adams, Curtis Fuller, Philly Joe Jones, and Roland Alexander. Two other selections, "High Step" and "Nixon, Dixon and Yates Blues," were recorded on the same day and issued on the Blue Note sampler High Step. Two other selections, "Chamber Mates" and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," on which Art Blakey is featured, were originally issued on samplers as well: Blue Berlin and Blakey's Drums Around the Corner. What it all adds up to is nearly four hours of some of the most elegant, heated playing in hard bop history. Away from their membership in the Miles Davis Quintet, Chambers, Trane, and Jones created a standard for all of Chambers' recordings for Blue Note: complex yet airy arrangements, impassioned and highly stylized playing, and plenty of improvisation. This is a set that goes beyond the boundaries of standard Blue Note fare (which is high-quality fare, indeed) and extends into the realm of pure musicology as articulated by jazz. Most of the players on these sessions had their musical vocabularies altered permanently by their participation. Many harmonic ideas were born in these dates in the mid-'50s, and most are still being articulated and built upon to this day. This box is essential.
Thom Jurek, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Dexterity
  2. Stablemates
  3. Easy to Love
  4. Visitation
  5. Trane's Blues (aka John Paul Jones)
  6. Eastbound
  7. Omicron
  8. Whims of Chambers
  9. Nita
  10. We Six
  11. Dear Ann
  12. Tale of the Fingers
  13. Just for the Love
  14. Trane's Strain (Improvisation)
  15. High Step
  16. Nixon, Dixon and Yates Blues (Improvisation)
  17. Minor Run-Down
  18. The Hand of Love
  19. Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise
  20. Four Strings
  21. What's New?
  22. Beauteous
  23. Four Strings [Alternate Take]
  24. Yesterdays
  25. You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To
  26. Chasin' the Bird
  27. Dear Old Stockholm
  28. The Theme
  29. Confessin' (I'm Confessin' That I Love You)
  30. Chamber Mates
  31. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
  32. What Is This Thing Called Love?
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