Cannonball Adderley – Swingin’ in Seattle: Live at The Penthouse 1966-1967 – Reel to Real RTRLP 001 – 180 gm vinyl 2LP – limited edition 2000 copies – ****:
(Cannonball Adderley – alto sax; Nat Adderley – cornet; Joe Zawinul – piano; Victor Gaskin – bass; Roy McCurdy – drums)
The Penthouse jazz club in Seattle was a hot spot in the Northwest during the 1960s. Located in the historic Pioneer Square area downtown, the club had its headliners spend a full week, something that you’d never find today, with the exception of iconic clubs in New York City. Over 200 of its shows were recorded by KING, a radio station in town. Jim Wilke, a DJ at the station, broadcast the gigs live, giving the club both publicity as well, as the hopes that jazz fans would show up to catch the performers live later in the week.
Luckily, some of these recordings are now being released. In 2016, Resonance Records, through its visionary, Zev Feldman, issued Groovin’ Hard, from Gene Harris and The Three Sounds, from 1964-1968. (We reviewed that CD on Dec. 18, 2016). The latest rediscovery, a limited edition 2 LP set, from 1966-1967 dates at The Penthouse, features Cannonball Adderley’s Quintet. The quintet at that time had Cannonball and his brother, Nat, teamed with pianist Joe Zawinul (pre-Weather Report), bassist Victor Gaskin, and drummer, Roy McCurdy.
Cory Weeds, Vancouver B.C saxophonist, and promoter, has teamed with Zev Feldman, working with Adderley’s estate, to launch his new label, Reel to Real, with this audiophile issue, mastered by Bernie Grundman from Wilke’s original tape reels. It’s a limited edition of 2000 copies (the CD version will be released in mid- January). Four microphones were set up for these recordings by the radio station. The resulting sound mix is generally fine, but the piano is a bit distant at times, as is Gaskin’s bass. The Adderley brothers are well recorded.
During this time period, Julian and Nat had moved on from Riverside Records, and onto an off and on relationship with Capitol and OJC. Their best selling album, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, had been issued during this time period, and had reached #1 on the R & B charts.
The June 1966 and October 1967 dates, from which the tracks for this double LP are utilized, find the quintet back squarely in the bop based idiom. They had not entered their funk oriented stage from which they found much success, along side their soul jazz catalog. Fans of straight ahead alto sax/ cornet playing with an avant edge will find much to like here.
There are eight tracks presented with extended time, in comparison to previous recorded versions. Cannonball’s solos reach heights that are not found on their other studio recorded sessions from that time period. A special treat are the intros and outros, where Julian’s hip pithy comments stand out.
Stand out tracks include the burning “Big P,” and “The Morning of the Carnival,” from Black Orpheus, where Cannonball takes the theme in new directions, pushing the envelope. Bernstein’s “Somewhere” from West Side Story is dedicated to troubled youth, and is a passionate ballad.
“74 Miles Away” from Zawinul is a blend of the soulful and modal, with Nat’s cornet solo pushed by Roy McCurdy’s assertive drumming. Charlie Parker’s “Back Home Blues” will be bop heaven for Cannonball fans.
Included with the LP set is a seven page LP sized booklet with essays from music journalist Bill Hopp, Julian’s widow, Olga Adderley Chandler, surviving member, Roy McCurdy, and an homage to Cannonball from saxophonist, Vincent Herring. An interesting tidbit is the origin of Julian’s nickname. It was originally “Cannibal” given for his prodigious appetite, and later morphed into Cannonball…
Here’s hoping that there are more unreleased gems to come from The Penthouse recordings from the 1960s. The quality of The Three Sounds recordings, as well as this new Adderley Quintet release, will hopefully keep the pump primed for future live treasures from our departed jazz heroes…
Jim Wilke Introduction
The Girl Next Door
The Morning of the Carnival
Jim Wilke Introduction
74 Miles Away
Back Home Blues