Thursday, May 7, 2009
I'm on a roll right now, watch out.
So I definitely can't take credit for this album or anything about this musician because I just downloaded this from one of my favorite music blogs on the web: My Jazz World. That site is awesome. Super rare funky jazz and shit primarily from the 70s. Lot of different styles thrown into the mix, some are pretty bad, but guy running it, Smooth usually comes correct. This is definitely one of those occasions.
Obviously I downloaded it because of the album cover. Look at this Rasputin ass dude who looks like he should be playing british folk or something. This is actually just excellent late 70s jazz. Linc is the guitarist, but the album is full of badass sax, bass and drum solos as well. Got a scan from the blog of the record sleeve, so I'll type up the liners because that's what I do:
It's been some time since the jazz guitar was freed from the rhythm section and allowed to become the creative, improvising instrument its potential warranted. What Jimmy Blanton did for the bass, Charlie Christian did for the guitar and his efforts helped to create a whole nation of plectrum devotees. We are now faced with a generation that can embrace folk heroes, men as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, Larry Coryell and Jim Hall. The guitar has become a symbol of protest and liberation. Its six strings hold the key to fame and fortune, a chance to see the world on three chords a day. The least skilled practitioners are frequently the most successful. Today's garage rock band can be tomorrow's mascaraed superstars. The flash and the wah-wah pedal can overshadow a brilliant technique.
There have been plenty of spectacular near misses. George Benson's brief fling with Miles Davis was fascinating and hinted at greater things that never materialized. Wes Montgomery was asked to join John Coltrane but the connection was never made. One can only imagine the fireworks had Charlie Christian survived.
The release of this LP helps to insure that a great talent does not get overlooked. Linc Chamberland has been playing the guitar for over twenty years and this is his first record as a leader. If justice is to be had, his name will soon be listed among the greats of the instrument.
I first stumbled upon Linc at one of his Tuesday night Rapson's gigs in Stamford, Conneticut. I had long heard of him from admiring friends who couched there descriptions in adjectives fit for "the one that got away." Rapson's is a tiny club but it was packed like Reveren Ike's sermons the night I finally made it down. There was a devoted hush in the room that is all too rare in nightclubs. Linc entered, a black bearded intense looking fellow in his mid 30's, and soon proved the rumors correct. Notes and ideas flew so fast that it was hard to believe they were issuing from the man on the stool in the corner. I recall a version of Chick Corea's "500 Miles High" that continued for 30 minutes and threatened to levitate the room with its intensity. All this achieved without attachment, pedals, or gimmicks of any kind and only a small amplifier to project that incandescent sound.
Much time has passed since that night and now Muse Records is as excited as I am about Linc Chamberland. This record is his own story, told in his own term. The music is not unlike what transpires still at Rapson's. It is pure, honest, and refreshingly alive.
Linc, of course, did not emerge fully formed. He is a native of Norwalk, Conneticut and still lives there. The guitarist admits to first picking up the instrument because he "wanted to be a singing cowboy." He joined his first group, "The Rhythm Chords," when he was 15. This led to a lengthy stint with an R&B big band known as "The Orchids" that yielded one album and a chance for Linc to hone his writing and arranging skills. This band toured almost constantly, a fact that explains Linc's current reluctance to travel. At one point, this band was reduced to eating mustard sandwiches in Hawaii no less! Other groups followed with some fairly unique names: "Gasmask," "Gotham," and "Sawbuck." Linc began to put in a lot of studio time and worked with the jazzy version of Felix Caviliere's "Rascals" (Alice Coltrane, Joe Farrell, and Richard Davis were also along.) Lic started playing at Rapson's soon after and says the long running gig has "helped me find out a lot about myself."
Linc now makes his living from teaching. His reputation is deservedly strong: Charmberland alumni perform with Alphnse Mouzon, Judy Collins, Wishbone Ash and (believe it or not) Alice Cooper. He has over 40 students and finds the work "a constant creative challenge."
The musicians on this album are veteran associates of the guitarist. Lookout Farm leader Dave Liebman has been a regular Rapson's jammer. Australian Dr. Lyn Christie (a medical doctor in addition to his bass talents) only recently left the Chamberland fold and the young Bobby Leonard is Linc's current drummer.
An attempt to get Linc to talk about his music drew a dismissive wave. "It speaks for itself," he said, and indeed it does. I can only call attention to some highlights: Liebman's possessed soprano on Lyn Christie's "Place Within," Christie's tense, brooding arco bass on Chamberland's "1957" and Leonard's sensitive accompaniment on the trio feature "What's New." Chamberland's guitar holds it all together with rhythm playing that offers firm footing and solos that just don't stop. The music offers no compromise and holds back nothing.
Dave Liebman tracked down in Wethersfield, Conneticut, offered the following assessment of Linc: "He's a great musician and a fine human being." Further elaboration is unnecessary. Listen to the record.