Nat Adderley – Work Song – Riverside Keepnews Collection

by | Jun 24, 2008 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Nat Adderley – Work Song – Riverside Keepnews Collection RCD-30506, 39:06 **** [Concord Records]:

(Adderly, cornet; Wes Montgomery, guitar; Bobby Timmons, piano; Sam Jones or Keter Betts, cello or bass; Percy Heath, bass; Louis Hayes, drums)

Well, it’s been three years now since I reviewed the original stereo SACD from Fantasy of this and many other classic albums in what is now being called The Keepnews Collection. So don’t mind me if I just paste in most of my previous reviews and add some pertinent comments regarding the differences in sound quality between the two.

Here’s the rub: I don’t hear any differences!  Playing both on the Oppo universal 983H and running the standard CD signal thru the Benchmark DAC1 they sound identical to me. I never was that impressed with the fidelity of that series; the SACD option did sound slightly better than the CD layer, but not by much. And the price of the SACD versions is about double that of these new Concord CDs.

I’m always a pushover for unusual instrumental sounds and combinations, even if they don’t work that well. But this session searching for a “new sound” worked extremely well with its front line of cornet, guitar and cello on some of the tunes! I’ve been a fan of Sam Jones’ jazz cello recordings for a long time and it’s a kick to hear him in this setting with one of the greatest jazz guitarists ever – Wes Montgomery. Nat Adderley liked to bring soulful, funky sounds into modern jazz, and he also wasn’t one to shortchange the ballads. Those characteristics are heard in these nine tracks recorded at Reeves Sound Studios in NYC in l960. Five of them are originals for the entire sextet. Two came straight from the band he had with brother Cannonball Adderley: Work Song and Sack o’ Woe. In the blues number Fallout we hear two cello solos – the first by Jones and the second by Keter Betts as they switch chairs.

On two other tracks Timmons’ fine piano playing is eschewed to give the ensemble a leaner sound, and the harmonies it had provided come from Wes Montgomery’s guitar instead. The program is short – there were evidently no alternate takes – but it’s 39 minutes of prime sounds. Adderley’s cornet has an astonishing 3D presence; the drum set sounds very loose and highly reverberant in the smallish studio.

TrackList: Work Song, Pretty Memory, I’ve Got a Crush on You, Mean to Me, Fallout, Sack o’ Woe, My Heart Stood Still, Violets for Your Furs, Scrambled Eggs.

– John Henry

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