A serious question - what does
the word 'art' mean to you? Is it a nice painting. of a vase of
flowers, a lump of granite chopped to specification, a pile of
bricks that looks like... a pile of bricks or a lesson at school
where you called a teacher in sandals by his first name and had a
Well, of course it can be all of these things and a whole lot
more and just as the way art has become a blanket word for lots
of different things united for a common cause, so jazz is now a
prefix or byword for a variety of musical forms.
So just as art is not the Mona Lisa, so jazz is not simply, say,
Count Basie - there really is a whole lot more than that to it.
Now this of course is not a notion that came to me in one magical 'eurekan' moment; it's the sort of thing that should go without
saying but is still, nevertheless, worth reiterating on the odd
occasion, would you not agree?
After all, you can never have too much of a good think!
So how does now feel like for a bit of grey matt er-of-facting?
After all, are not the eighties the years in which jazz realised
it's roots and adapted and recreated them to fit the medium. That
period when all the bits - the musical vases of flowers, lumps of
granite, piles of bricks and peep-toed 'nigels' - all sort of
come together and define the true meaning of the word?
Well, no it isn't actually and here is one of the recordings to
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and brother Nat were jazz
musicians who were never frightened to play around with their
music and test it's elasticality. And indeed it was musicians
like Cannonball and Nat who proved there was no limit to how far
it could be manipulated by new innovations and rediscovered
"Cannonball" may be a corruption of 'cannibal' because of julian's healthy appetite, but that
could just as easily apply to Adderley's ravenous desire for new
ideas. Even in those early days in the mid-fifties, Adderley was
not only considered perhaps the finest living altoist but also
one of jazz's greatest innovators and throughout his recording
career spanning two decades, he never failed to surprise and
It was Adderley who, in 1962, cut a latin jazz album -
"Cannonball's Bossa Nova" on Riverside - utilising not
only a whole new batch of rhythms but also a group of musicians
(Sergio Mendes, Dom Um Romao, Octavio Bailly Jnr. and the like)
indigenous to the music: a first.
And so it was Adderley in 1968 who - in the shape of a one-off
break from his most successful period as the personification of
the 'soul jazz' of his Capitol years - once again played his
roots and incorporated the sounds and rhythms of Africa into his
Indeed, African music itself is a much maligned term as there is
in effect no such thing - it is a name that acts like a clearing
house for the many different instruments, rhythms, meanings and
styles prevalant throughout the African countries.
It then takes the likes of the Adderley brothers to unite them in
one vibrant, exciting and brilliantly played collection of songs
and in the process introduce a whole new facet to that whole jazz 'thang'...
MARK WEBSTER (BLUES AND SOUL)
Produced by DAVID AXELROD
Ndolima - A strangely layered, lilting piece
of music that cushions itself on a powerful African percussive
base and is topped off with a full brass sound straight from an
epic' film score.
Inbetween, Nat blows an acutely controlled melody line and
Cannonball simply enjoys himself.
The word 'Ndolima' means ploughing time in the community.
Hamba' Nami - the word is Zulu for "Walk
With Me" but the very beat almost Stax-style tempo echoes
more a stroll down the Kings Road than across a field of elephant
An outing that once again has a full compliment of brass this
time handling much of the melody while the brothers chip in with
low key muted runs
Khutsana - a powerful, crescendoing piece that
once again utilises all the tools to hand with much aplomb.
Starting off with a slow movement, Cannonball is faithful to the
attractive tune, but when the percussion swings seriously into
action and,the brass really sings, Adderley lets his hair down.
'Khutsana' is a Sesotho word meaning 'orphan'.
Up And At It - The tune is a Wes Montgomery
original and a little out of context with the rest of the
recording but it's strict dance tempo, gospelly vocal chorus and
some of Nat's best blowing more thah covers the crack.
Gumba Gumba - is
a Pan-African expression meaning party or all night session and
the mo~od of the piece more than suits the sentiment. Strictly in
that RnB groove prevalent in the: rhid-sixties, this a
boisterous, strictly-for-dancers slab of good time music with a
whistle-inducing melody struck up by the band and joytul soloing
from the Adderleys.
Marabi - Hi life is perhaps the most eclectic
African music form of them all, and this piece dedicated to one
of it's dances rings echoes of both South America and the
Built on some real salsa bongo-mg (one repeating a dead catchy
'boom, boom, boom' and the other going sixteen to the dozen) and
licking along at an almost calypso pace, this is for me the
highlight of the album with it's joyous tune and Cannonball
bendinghis back with fun and vigour.
Gunjah - has, as the name may suggest not a
little to do with
certain herbal substances and Cannonball has no trouble capturing
the right image with this swirling, mesmeric number in which he
perhaps gives us his sharpest, most powerful solos.
Lehadima - this Sesotho word for lightning could
not be more appropriate as the pace is that and a bit more.
Utilising that irresistable combination of bop and bongos, this
piece is essentially straight jazz combo interplay laced with
fast latin percussion and playing made to dance to.
NOTES CONCERNING THE INSTRUMENTATlON:
On "Gunjah" and
"Lehadima," the Selmer Soprano Saxophone.
On "Ndolima" and
"Khutsana," the S.M.L. Soprano Saxophone.
On "Gu mba Gumba" and Hamba Nami," the Selmer Varitone.
"Marabi" and "up and At It," the King Super
20 Alto Saxophone.
Nat Adderley appears through the
courtesy of A & M Records