Clifford Lamb - Lamb Chops – WeberWorks

On Lamb Chops, his sixth album for WeberWorks Entertainment, San Francisco pianist Clifford Lamb does something quite common among jazz keyboardists, but a bit unusual for him: he moves his piano into the spotlight. Lamb’s previous five recordings have been primarily conceptual affairs. Each of them focused on themes of social justice and modern jazz’s historic underpinnings, and each has employed guest hornmen and vocalists to trace a story unique to that project. But now, Lamb stands front and center, in the time-honored setting of the piano trio, to offer a set of impressively crafted performances – as well as a vivid reminder that his recent “big-picture” albums rest on a foundation of sterling pianism. As he explains, “This is, finally, my ‘piano statement.’ Of course, I play piano on all my albums. But this is me covering a wider range.” In other words, he takes a step back from the extra-musical influences and inspirations that have shaped his recent recordings; here he gets to flaunt his chops. (Hence the album title.) His smartly conceived and expertly realized improvisations radiate his clarity of thought and of touch. They also provide a road map to his influences and the piano idols – from Oscar Peterson and Ahmad Jamal to Ramsey Lewis and McCoy Tyner – who first grabbed his attention and have shaped his own development.