(Artists: Louis Hayes, drums/leader; Vincent Herring, alto sax; Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn; Rick Germanson , piano; Anthony Wonsey, piano; Richie Goods, bass)
Louis Hayes has put together a superb Cannonball and Nat Adderley tribute band that has toured together for 3 years now. That is one half of the period that Hayes held down the drum chair in the Adderley’s own band-1959 to 1965. I had the privilege to see the Tribute band back in 2003 live at Ronnie Scott’s in London and marveled on how “tight” the band was in their inaugural year together with Vincent Herring in Cannonball’s role and the brilliant Jeremy Pelt taking on Nat’s duties. Rick Germanson was the pianist then and here on this new CD he shares the piano bench equally with one of today’s hottest pianists, Anthony Wonsey.
Maximum Firepower gets off to a blistering start on Quincy Jones’ Jessica’s Birthday with the front line horn men on a tear matched in intensity with pianist Germanson. Things don’t let up on Bobby Timmons’ hard bop classic, This Here. Herring has opening duties and then Pelt jumps in and shows why he is among today’s hottest young trumpeters. It more than typifies this CD’s title. Wonsey plays some blues lines to rival Timmons, before Herring and Pelt bring the song’s theme back.
The song list on this CD is made up of titles with direct correlation to members of the original Adderley bands or songs that the band recorded largely for Capitol Records. There are two Victor Feldman titles, Lisa and New Delhi as well as Charles Lloyd’s Sweet Georgia Bright (based on the changes to Sweet Georgia Brown), which the band recorded on a live date for Capitol. Other classic Adderley band memories are recreated on Nat’s Little Boy with the Sad Eyes, and Cannonball’s classic, Sack O‚ Woe. Even Autumn Leaves from Cannonball’s epic Blue Note recording, Something Else album makes a nice extended return. Speaking of Blue Note Records, Savant has gone all out bringing on board THE recording master, Rudy Van Gelder, who has the trifecta of engineering, mastering and mixing duties on this brilliant release. Louis’ cymbal mastery deserves no less than Rudy’s expertise.
An extra up to date treat is Jeremy Pelt’s new tune, a gorgeous tribute to the brothers Adderley, The Two of Them. Somewhere up in jazz heaven Julian and Nat have got to be pleased that their drummer, Louis Hayes, has done them proud. Maximum Firepower is a soul jazz/hard bop knockout. It’s got the works: soul, song choice, and super-fidelity. 5 stars. Damn straight!
Songs: Jessica’s Birthday, This Here, Lisa, Little Boy With the Sad Eyes, The Two of Them, Sweet Georgia Bright, New Delhi, Sack O’ Woe, Autumn Leaves, Unit 7.
– Jeff Krow