In the classification-conscious
land of jazz, Julian Adderley defies categorization. His music
isn't pretentiously intense. It isn't devoid of wit. Adderley,
the man, isn't pompous regarding his accomplishments or aims. He
doesn't confine his interests to his music; his considerations
are worldly and perceptively so. He is a musician, certainly, and
a composer-arranger, too. Yet he manages to conduct a radio
program, write a column and make innumerable appearances as an
articulate spokesman for jazz. He is constantly approachable,
eager to discuss matters ranging from Ornette Coleman to
international political affairs. His presence on the jazz scene
is both refreshing and invaluable.
Towering over many of his
barely-coherent contemporaries, Cannonball manages to sustain his
sense of humor without debasing the music he plays. His playing
can be deeply introspective, meaningfully searching-without ever
being obscure. Deeply rooted in jazz and aware of its history,
Cannonball cherishes the past, carefully examines the present and
moves imaginatively toward the future with more regard for
esthetics than opportunistic avant garde eccentricity.
Cannonball is an individualist.
Don DeMichael, Managing Editor of Down Beat, reviewing an
Adderley album two years ago, affirmed Cannonball's "right
to be called THE boss of the altos . . . Cannonball is not, nor
has he ever been, Parker. Bird is dead. But for a time he had
some Parkerisms, which made the title seem fitting. Not so now.
It's true that he has incor porated some facets of Parker into
his playing, but Adderley has gained an identity and
individualism that none of the other neo-Parkerites has attained.
Adderley displays a wide scope in his choice of tunes; not
depending on the standards of modern jazz, he instead deals with
unfamiliar material and proceeds to play it very well. His long,
sometimes intricate, lines swing and, more importantly, make
sense . . . He is a happy man. No morose or dark, ominous playing
Since he first invaded the New
York jazz in-group in the summer of 1955, departing his Florida
home for the more competitive environment of the biggest jazz
colony, Cannonball rarely has faltered. His playing, like his
personality, has been firm, enlightened and joyous. While many of
his cohorts have fingered bitter messages on their horns,
Cannonball has continued to celebrate the rewards of life on his.
As an alto man (he has played
tenor, trumpet, clarinet and flute, too), he's been a force in
jazz since that initial trek to Sit in with Oscar Pettiford's
group at New York's Bohemia. Except for a stint with Miles Davis'
group, he's spent much of his time co-leading a combo with his
cornet-playing brother Nat.
Few brothers could be as
compatible. Nat, a witty extrovert, is as aware of jazz history
as is Cannonball. Their musical aims are similar. At 29, he's
three years younger than his alto-wielding brother.
Chicago-born pianist Junior Mance
has, at 32, paid his dues. He's worked with Gene Ammons, Lester
Young, and Dizzy Gillespie. He served as accompanist to Dinah
Washington. During most of 1956 and 1957, he was a stalwart in
the Adderley quintet. A polished modern stylist, he inspired the
following words from critic Ralph Gleason: "He is so steeped
in the blues tradition that he carries it along everywhere . . .
his solos are beautifully constructed, rhythmically as well as
Bassist Sam Jones, 36, hails from
Florida, too (Jacksonville), but has spent most of his jazz time
in New York, working with Les Jazz Modes, Kenny Dorham, Illinois
Jacquet, Cannonball, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and others.
A strong, reliable bassist, he is an asset to any group in need
of a firm rhythmic base.
Drummer Jimmy Cobb has, since
summer, 1958, been a valuable cog in the Miles Davis group. Also
32, he is a quick-handed, discreet drummer, a member of the team,
more concerned with group sound than individual action. As a
result, he's much in demand for recording sessions at which the
horn men wish to be heard. As a valuable sideman with
Cannonball's own group, Jimmy asserted his skill in highlighting
the alto man's virtuosity without intruding.
This is a session notable for the
cohesion of the group. Having worked together, the members had
developed nuances and understanding. What emerges is a group
sound, with individuals featured but never in a struggle to be
heard. Everything, as they say, is cool, all around.
The opener, 78th Century
Ballroom, was composed by Nat Adderley and the inventive
pianist Ray Bryant. Listen to Nat, Cannonball and Mance explore,
in solos, its flowing motif. Lover Man, the standard that
has fascinated many of the alto men of jazz, is in Cannonball's
hands between ensemble statements; it is in capable hands. The
Gershwins' A Foggy Day is a pulsating London air, with the
brothers ably dominating the solo space. Nat's Hoppin' John hops
indeed, from Mance's fleet introduction through the solos and
exchanges with Cobb to the hopping-off close.
The Jerome Kern-Dorothy Fields
gem, The Way Tou Look Tonight, sandwiches statements by
Cannonball, Julian and Mance between ensembles. The brothers' Porky
surges, with Nat perkily opening, Jones talking vigorously,
Cannonball having his say and the group getting together for a
Dixie-ish climax, complete with tag. Nat's That Funky Train is
an estimable excursion into the land of soul, with the rhythm
Section providing the reasonable facsimile of the train and
Jones, Mance and Nat tooting their own messages. Another pop
standard, I'll Remember April, provides a bright frame for
the expert solos of the brothers and Mance.
It's a tightly-knit, happy
session, in keeping with the Adderleys belief in swinging their
Don Gold , Associate Editor,