By Don Heckman
Hollywood, CA. Chambers, Herbert & Ellis. The names may not be as familiar as Lambert,Hendricks & Ross. At least not yet. But Friday night’s performance by Pierre Chambers, Lisa Herbert and Mitch Ellis at The Gardenia Supper Club provided an impressive introduction to a trio of singers with both the desire and the skill to carry the musical torch lit by L, H & R during their stellar career in the jazz spotlight.
Most of the Chambers, Herbert & Ellis briskly swinging set traced to their deep affection for their iconic predecessors. The highlights included such familiar items as L.H & R’s versions of “Moanin’,” “Everyday I Have the Blues,” “Centerpiece,” “Cloudburst” and “Come On Home.” And they were delivered with an irresistible blend of relaxed swing and musical authenticity.
Add to that a collection of somewhat less familiar pieces as well as a few offbeat tunes, some reflecting the musical family linkages among C, H & E. Among them: “Detour Ahead” (co-written by guitarist Herb Ellis, Mitch Ellis’ father), “Alicia” (by Mort Herbert and Herb Ellis); and “Dear Anne” (written by Pierre Chambers with his father, bassist Paul Chambers.); as well as “Midnight Indigo” and “Caravan” (by Jon Hendricks and Duke Ellington).
That’s an impressive program of music, by any definition. And Chambers, Herbert and Ellis handled it with ease. Lisa Herbert’s far ranging voice soared unerringly across the tops of the harmonies, occasionally popping out high Ds and E flats – reminiscent of Annie Ross, but expressively delivered in her own unique fashion.
Mitch Ellis was equally articulate with a variety of demanding, but improvisationally compelling vocalese passages. Chambers countered with rich baritone phrases and masterful blues and balladry. And the singers were ably supported by pianist Jamieson Trotter, bassist Karl Vincent and drummer Peter Buck.
As they approach their fourth anniversary as a jazz vocal ensemble, Chambers, Herbert & Ellis have still not yet reached the widespread audience their music deserves. A recording is reportedly in the works – hopefully one which will introduce jazz vocal fans to C, H & E’s compelling music.
The trio is also scheduled to return to The Gardenia for a reprise in the near future. And the club’s intimate environs provide the perfect setting for the opportunity to see and hear these gifted singers up close and personal.
Don’t miss the recording or their repeat appearance at The Gardenia., To check the club’s schedule, click HERE.
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Photos courtesy of Chambers, Herbert & Ellis.