Cannonball Adderley Quintet – Legends Live – Jazz Haus 101 702, 60:12 [3/27/12] [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
(Julian “Cannonball” Adderley – alto sax; Nat Adderley – trumpet; Joe Zawinul – piano, keyboards; Victor Gaskin – bass; Roy Mc Curdy – drums)
Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s legacy was already well established at the time that these newly-discovered and soon to be released sides were recorded in Germany in 1969. As a hard bop alto sax player, he had begun to cement his reputation with the 1958 release Somethin’ Else, then as part of the legendary Miles Davis Sextet that recorded the seminal Kind Of Blue album in 1959, and finally his own eponymous 1966 album Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.
Jazz Haus is a new music label, launched in the U.S. by Naxos of America and Arthaus Musik who obtained access to the archives of Südwestrundfunk of Southwest Germany and have begun to release some of its treasures which include this live recording. Adderley by this time, while he had not abandoned entirely his hard-bop roots, was drifting towards more electric/avant-garde jazz. The opening track “Rumpelstiltskin” foreshadows this development with some edgy playing but both Cannonball and brother Nat, along with the individual lines developed by Zawinul. That being said, Adderley’s funky blues lines were never far from the surface, hence Nat Adderley’s own composition “Sweet Emma” and the Pops Staples chart favourite “Why Am I Treated So Bad” are in that tradition. Nestled in-between these offering is Cannonball’s languid ballad interpretation of Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” which has some interesting arco bass interplay between Cannonball and Victor Gaskin.
Joe Zawinul penned “The Painted Desert” which develops along similar lines to the previously noted “Rumpelstiltskin” and is a free jazz form but with a variety of time signatures, plus some intriguing Zawinul piano on display. Following on with “Oh Babe” we are treated to a more traditional blues with an attractive vocal by Nat Adderley and then Dizzy Gillespie’s “Blue And Boogie” which features an extended drum solo by Roy Mc Curdy. While the drumming pyrotechnics were probably appealing at the concert, unfortunately the recorded version goes on too long to sustain listening interest. The disc closes with Nat Adderley’s “Work Song” which had long been part of the band’s book, yet still delivers its quotient of sustained significance.
The re-mastering into a digital format has brought out the best the music has to offer, and covers the band at a crucial development moment.
TrackList: Rumpelstiltskin; Sweet Emma; Somewhere; Why Am I Treated So Bad; The Painted Desert; Oh Babe; Blue And Boogie; Walk Tall; Work Song
Mack Avenue Records released a stunning live album!