"Live," whether used as
an adjective or a verb, seems singularly appropriate when it is
applied to Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and his
Quintet. No jazz group presently active seems to come alive more
buoyantly on the bandstand, and no other combo has benefited more
fully from the advantages of recording live.
This latest session was a triply
happy occasion for the Adderleys, since it marked a family
reunion. Julian and Nat had brought their wives to Hollywood. Mr.
& Mrs. Adderley Sr. were in town on a visit from Florida,
visiting with their sons, and having a ball. Mr. Adderley, who
used to be a cornetist, commented after one of Nat's solos:
"You sound almost as good as I used to." During "I
Remember Bird," he said: "I remember me!" Their
radiant pride was an additional incentive to the two sons, as the
recording got under way before a hip and responsive crowd.
Cannonball, of course, is the
orator supreme among jazz combo leaders. He neither ignores his
listeners nor puts them on nor condescends to them; he addresses
them as if they were newfound friends. It is in this spirit that
you hear the session start; after being presented to the audience
by KBCA disc jockey Jay Rich, Julian introduces the opening
number, "Do Do Do."
All the way from the opening vamp
by Joe Zawinul on electric piano, this Nat Adderley tune has the
spirit of the blues, transmuted into 32-bar chorus form. As you
might deduce from the subtitle ("What Now Is Next"),
this beguilingly basic theme has been equipped with lyrics (by
Gail Fisher, the prettiest songwriter in town), and will no doubt
be heard as a vocal vehicle in due course, following a pattern
established by Miss Fisher's lyrics for "Mercy, Mercy,
Many years ago, Julian Adderley
said: "I listened to all the other alto players ...
something seemed to be lacking. When I first heard Bird, I knew
immediately that that was it." From that point on, Charlie
Parker provided the impetus and inspiration behind Cannon's
development of his own style. As an early friend and admirer of
Bird, and as an Adderley fan ever since he first breezed into New
York in 1955,1 was doubly gratified when Cannon used my
dedicatory blues, "I Remember Bird," as a basis for his
own tribute to Parker's memory. Julian, Nat and Joe all dig in
here with solos straight from the heart.
"Walk Tall," by Joe
Zawinul, has a history not unlike that of "Mercy." The
latter grew out of a background theme he had developed for Esther
Marrow, a singer he was coaching. Miss Marrow, whose background
clearly goes back to church music, has appeared with Duke
Ellington's band at various houses of worship, performing in
Duke's program of sacred music. "WalkTall," which has
the same sanctified feeling as "Mercy," was a
collaboration between Zawinul, Miss Marrow and J. Rein. Again we
have a candidate for vocal treatments, under the alternate title,
"Baby, That's What I Need."
Joe's tune, "74 Miles
Away," derives its name from the meter. Written in 7/4, it
swings with perfect ease and includes some of the most
adventurous improvisation of the entire session. Julian
establishes a carefully-constructed tension, using upper-register
notes with a montuna-like background by Joe, bassist Victor
Gaskin and drummer Roy McCurdy. Nat starts in a meditative mood,
establishes a Middle Eastern scalar quality, then ventures into
some wild sound effects that may convince you he is playing bass
With the Adderleys shaking
tambourines to build the intensity, Zawinul offers a magnificent
demonstration of the scope and resourcefulness he can bring to
modern jazz piano. The baffling tonal innovations were produced
by the insertion of a tambourine over some of the strings.
"Oh Babe," as Julian
says, is "the stone, natural-born blues." Nat's vocal
(he started his career as a child singer before taking up a horn)
shows how you can have fun with the blues without satirizing it.
The screams, by the way, are contributed by various members of
the group at whom Nat pointed the microphone when he reached the
tenth bar of each vocal chorus.
Not long ago, Cannon told me:
"When we have a hit going for us, people may come in the
club just to hear that number. But once they're inside, we have
no trouble getting them interested in everything we do. We play
things that are very commercial, others that are very modern, and
we like ballads, and of course the blues. But we never play
anything we don't like and don't believe in."
These sides offer exhilarating
evidence of Julian Adderley practicing what he preaches.
Produced by DAVID AXELROD