This month, as we catch up with the fusion and jazz great Dennis Chambers, we check in with our readers and social media followers to find out what their favorite albums or performances are from the MD Hall of Famer’s substantial career.
Steely Dan’s Alive in America is amazing! [Chambers plays] the perfect groove for the perfect music. “Josie,”“Peg,” and “Babylon Sisters” are all awesome. I’ve always been a fan of Jeff Porcaro [who appeared on several Steely Dan albums], and not many can groove like he did, but Chambers can. But the way Dennis played “Aja”—that’s where I fell in love with his style.
Also, once while I was practicing drums, my dad gave me a cassette and said, “Son, you want to hear this.” It was [the saxophonist] Bill Evans’ Petite Blonde, and it blew my mind. It’s been one of my favorites ever since.
The first time I heard or saw Dennis Chambers was on the Buddy Rich Memorial Scholarship Concerts video from 1989. I was absolutely blown away—then and still now!
I’d say the track “Tipatina’s” on the album Play by Mike Stern. That’s Dennis at his finest for me: groove, feel, space, and authority.
I wore out Dennis Chambers’ Serious Moves video on VHS, and I love the ’90s John McLaughlin tunes like “Jazz Jungle” [The Promise] and “Mr. D.C.” [The Heart of Things]. Groove and blistering fills.
During Drum Solo Week on the Late Show with David Letterman, Chambers played a bit of “Cissy Strut” with Letterman’s band and then dived into a beautiful solo. I could imagine that this performance certainly inspired some young, aspiring musicians to pick up the sticks.
John McLaughlin’s Tokyo Live with Chambers and Joey DeFrancesco. With a lineup like that, there’s as much instrumental firepower as you could ask for, but there are many sublime moments of deep pocket grooving that balance out the blowing.
For me, it’s his latest work with the Victor Wooten Trio on Trypnotyx. Chambers takes all of his previous experience and uses it on this album. Plus, I just saw the Victor Wooten Trio live at PASIC 2018, and it was epic. Chambers and Wooten were communicating on a level that seemed different from most groups. They had chemistry for sure, and you could tell that it was special.
Warren E. La Fever
Bill Evans’ Petite Blonde. It’s live, high energy, and has a mix of a lot of styles. There are some insane licks and fills in there.
I’d say John McLaughlin’s Tokyo Live. Chambers is on fire on that album. Also, I saw that group in Boston on that tour, and it was my first time hearing Dennis play. It was a life-changing experience for me.
I’d say both Loud Jazz by John Scofield and Extraction by Greg Howe, Victor Wooten, and Chambers. His grooves have an amazing pocket on both albums.
John Scofield’s Blue Matter. I bought that album from Colony Records in NYC in the mid ’80s, and it still sounds as fresh and innovative today as it did back then.
Dennis Chambers’ performance on the P-Funk All-Stars’ Live at the Beverly Theater in Hollywood is Dennis being Dennis for real. That era of his playing is one of my favorites!
I love his solo Big City EP. It’s just Chambers laying it down in all different styles. And I’m so glad I got to go to one of his clinics. He’s such an insightful guy to talk to.
Bill Evans’ Petite Blonde. The interaction that Victor Bailey and Chambers have with each other is just great.
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In the January issue, Who’s On That Song was written by Patrick Berkery.