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Chuck Lamb and Peter Mack: Exit 33

Chuck Lamb and Peter Mack: Exit 33 (Nov. 2021) REVIEW Chuck Lamb (piano) and Peter Mack (bass) joined forces to create a fabulous duo album, half of which are originals composed by Lamb. All are straight-ahead jazz. And though there are only two musicians playing, it almost sounds like more. There’s such a warm, full sound.

Mack said, “You’ll be surprised it’s just two people…People will say, ‘That’s a really big sound for two people.’” Lamb and Mack had been playing with other, larger groups before they paired up, and Mack said, “What do we need the other guys for?”

Lamb is no stranger to KC, though he’s been a strong part of the Central New York jazz scene for years. “KC was my home for many years,” Lamb said. “We hooked up with (KC guitarist) Rod Fleeman and made a cassette tape at the Levee and got a record deal (back then).”

Lamb did not make his early start on piano. He switched instruments: “I started out on drums with my brother…switched to percussion…switched to piano…listening to Chick (Corea)…and Herbie (Hancock)…(even) Ravel.” All those complex and tasty influences are evident in his playing, especially Corea on some of the early tracks on this album.

Mack spoke of his own evolution during his early years, searching for his own sound, saying, “I’ve listened to a lot of people over the years…I’m always looking for my own sound…I’m influenced by everyone I’ve heard…Ron Carter, Christian McBride, Sam Jones, Mingus.” Both Lamb and Mack are seasoned pros, long into their own evolutions as musicians, but it’s still interesting to hear where they came from, to hear about their early years. Sometimes you can still hear echoes of that in what they play today.

Like many professional jazz musicians, Lamb and Mack have endured months of strange days and hardship because of the pandemic, but things are starting to open-up again when it comes to live music in the clubs: “Touring, and finally starting to play (out),” Lamb said, “(with) every audience, the energy is very high…they’re just so grateful (to be in person again.)” The returning live audiences are appreciative.

Lamb and Mack are a simpatico, well-matched duo. These are two folks who obviously appreciate each other musically, and that comes through clearly in these duets. Duets where the lead shifts almost imperceptibly, and the backing is exquisite: thoughtful, careful, intentional, supportive. Chuck said, “We’re best friends…If we’re…hanging out having a great time, then the transition to music is equally powerful.” And they praised each other. “He’s got a unique voice,” Lamb said of Mack. “He’s got a big fat sound.” And the two, do not get in each other’s way or overplay.

Mack said, “How can you get that right note . . . the simpler it gets, the better it gets.” As part of his musical history, Lamb has been with the Brubeck Brothers Quartet for 20 years, but you can hear him here on this album, performing the “new Chuck Lamb and Peter Mack: Exit 33.” Get it and enjoy.

All musician quotes in this review were pulled from the audio interview program Neon Jazz hosted by Joe Dimino: Used with permission.

—Kevin Rabas

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