Paul Chambers: Mosaic Select 5: Paul Chambers (2003)
Aside from Ray Brown and Dave Holland, few bass players over the years have chosen to put their instruments up front as a leading voice. Lest we forget the efforts in this area by the legendary Paul Chambers, a recent Mosaic Select collection sets the record straight on the bassist's own sessions as a leader. While just about all the music included on this three disc set has been available on CD before in one form or the other, currently only Whims of Chambers is in print, making this a must-have item for those fans of Chambers' work who might have missed out the first time around.
This collection kicks off with a March 1956 session that was originally issued as Chambers' Music on the Jazz West label. While recorded in Hollywood, it's a decidedly New York cast of characters that contributes, including Kenny Drew, Philly Joe Jones, and John Coltrane. The sound quality is strong and this early glimpse of Coltrane makes for an intriguing listen even if the general feeling is of the jam session variety. Far less interesting are three selections done a month label in Boston for Transition. While Coltrane is again present, these loose structures and lengthy jams provide for not much more than a string of solos.
The meat of this collection commences with the September 1956 Blue Note session that was issued as Whims of Chambers. Chambers strolls his bass (which was supplied with a wheel attached to the bottom support peg) down the street on the cover shot in one of the more memorable early Blue Note covers and we get the rare opportunity to hear Coltrane in the company of Horace Silver for what was their only recorded appearance together. Everything about this date makes for a hard bop delight, with Chambers putting himself up front but without any grandstanding that might take away from the overall satisfaction. Donald Byrd's "Omicron" and "We Six" are prickly burners that find Coltrane at his early best.
Things start to change up with the 1957 studio date Paul Chambers Quintet. Byrd is back on trumpet, but now he's sharing the front line with Clifford Jordan and the rhythm section includes two Detroiters, namely Tommy Flanagan and Elvin Jones. There's a decidedly more ambitious feel to this one thanks to some strong original lines, including two numbers from the pen of Benny Golson. Chambers' final Blue Note album, Bass On Top , retreats to more familiar territory and its title fairly sums up the intent. Without any horns and a plethora of bass solos, the album wears out its welcome fairly quickly, although bass fanatics will be taking in every note.
A very concise package of Chambers' sole recorded work as a leader, this set also includes the two 1959 duets with Art Blakey and a booklet that includes original liners and color reproductions of several of the original album covers.
Track Listing: DISC ONE 1. Dexterity (A) 6:44 (Charlie Parker) 2. Stablemates (A) 5:52 (Benny Golson) 3. Easy To Love (A) 3:50 (Cole Porter) 4. Visitation (A) 4:53 (Paul Chambers) 5. Trane's Blues (aka John Paul Jones) (A) 6:54 (John Coltrane) 6. Eastbound (A) 4:21 (Kenny Drew) 7. Omicron (C) 7:15 (Donald Byrd) 8. Whims Of Chambers (C) 4:03 (Paul Chambers) 9. Nita (C) 6:03 (John Coltrane) 10. We Six (C) 7:39 (Donald Byrd) 11. Dear Ann (C) 4:18 (Paul Chambers) 12. Tale Of The Fingers (C) 4:41 (Paul Chambers) 13. Just For The Love (C) 3:41 (John Coltrane) DISC TWO 1. Trane's Strain (B) 11:00 (improvisation) 2. High Step (B) 8:09 (Barry Harris) 3. Nixon, Dixon And Yates Blues (B) 8:26 (improvisation) 4. Minor Run-Down (D) 7:36 (Benny Golson) 5. The Hand Of Love (D) 6:22 (Paul Chambers) 6. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (D) 3:06 (S. Romberg-O. Hammerstein) 7. Four Strings (D) 5:26 (Benny Golson) 8. What's New (D) 5:38 (B. Haggart-J. Burke) 9. Beauteous (D) 8:05 (Paul Chambers) 10. Four Strings (alternate take) (D) 5:11 (Benny Golson) DISC THREE 1. Yesterdays (E) 5:50 (J. Kern-O. Harbach) 2. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To (E) 7:15 (Cole Porter) 3. Chasin' The Bird (E) 5:45 (Charlie Parker) 4. Dear Old Stockholm (E) 6:40 (traditional) 5. The Theme (E) 6:10 (Miles Davis) 6. Confessin' (I'm Confessin' That I Love You) (E) 4:15 (Daugherty-Reynolds-Neiburg) 7. Chamber Mates (E) 5:00 (Chambers-Burrell) 8. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (F) 7:07 (Irving Berlin) 9. What Is This Thing Called Love (F) 5:42 (Cole Porter)
Personnel: Paul Chambers (bass) with John Coltrane, Pepper Adams, Curtis Fuller, Elvin Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Burrell, Horace Silver, and many others