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Joe Chambers is an extremely versatile and tasteful master of all post-bop idioms. Chambers drives an ensemble with a light hand; his time is excellent and his grasp of dynamics superb. He's not a flashy drummer by any means, but he's a generous collaborator who makes any group of which he's a part as good as it can possibly be. Chambers worked around Washington, D.C., in his late teens. After moving to New York in 1963, he played with Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Giuffre, and Andrew Hill. In the mid-'60s, Chambers played with a number of the more progressively inclined musicians associated with the Blue Note label, such as vibist Bobby Hutcherson and saxophonists Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, and Sam Rivers.
In 1970, Chambers joined Max Roach's percussion ensemble, M'Boom, as an original member. During the '70s, Chambers played with a great many of jazz's most prominent elder statesmen, including Sonny Rollins, Tommy Flanagan, Charles Mingus, and Art Farmer. With Flanagan and bassist Reggie Workman, Chambers formed the Super Jazz Trio. In the late '70s, he co-led a band with organist Larry Young. Chambers recorded with bands led by trumpeter Chet Baker and percussionist Ray Mantilla in the early '80s. He also maintained his association with Roach into the '90s.
As a solo artist, Chambers has released a tidy number of albums including Almoravid (1973) with trumpeter Woody Shaw, New World (1976), New York Concerto (1981), Phantom of the City (1992), Mirrors (1998), and Urban Grooves (2002). Beginning with 2006's Outlaw, Chambers released a steady stream of albums for Savant Records with Horace to Max (2010), Joe Chambers Moving Pictures Orchestra (2012), and Landscapes (2016), featuring bassist Ira Coleman and pianist Rick Germanson.