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Since Dec,01,1998

©1998 By barybary





  • A Message from Nat Adderley:
    Cannon considered Big Man one of the most important projects of his whole career.
    Since he had a pretty big career, you can get some idea of what it meant to him to
    compose the score for a full-scale musical play, and particularly this musical, dealing
    with a theme that has major significance for all Americans and particularly for
    all black Americans. (I am proud to have collaborated with him on this
    work, which is clearly a strong part of Cannon's musical legacy.)

    The two-record set is a complete play: music, lyrics, dialogue. But the music is quite
    capable of standing by itself. That's why this special disc has been prepared,
    offering six complete songs that give a strong taste of the full flavor of
    Big Man and are also very much worth listening to on their own.

  • liner notes from a Special ONE Side LP promotional Copy (Fantasy FSP-2)


Joe Williams -John Henry

Randy Crawford-Carolina

Robert Guillaume-Jassawa

Judy Thames-Whore

Lane Smith-Sheriff,Bull Maree

Cannonball Adderley-alto sax

Allen DeRienzo, Oliver Mitchell, Oscar
Dick Hyde, George Bohanon-trombones
William Green, Jackie Kelso, Donald Menza,Jay Migliori-reeds
Jimmy Jones-piano
Dawilli Gonga-keyboards (psuedonym for George Duke)
Billy Fender, Don Peake-guitars
Carol Kaye, Walter Booker-bass
Roy McCurdy-drums Airto Moreira, King Errisson-percussion
(Airto appeared courtesv of CT Records.)

Jack Shulman (concertmaster), Bernard Kundell,
William Henderson, Jerome Reisler, Henry Roth,
Arthur H. Brown, Mary Newkirk, Pamela Goldsmith,
Gareth Nuttycombe, Alexander Neiman, William
Hymanson, Alfred Lustgarten, Kathleen Lustgarten,
Edgar Lustgarten

Mortonette Jenkins, Gwendolyn Owens, Jessie
Richardson, Stephanie Spru ill, Vernettya Royster,
Donald Dandridge, Sherwood Sledge, Fleming
Williams, Charles May, Josef Powell, Michael Gray,
Billie Barnum

Produced by Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Nat Adderley, and David Axelrod for Junat Productions

Engineer-Jim Stern
Mastering-David Turner
(Recorded at Fantasy Studios; Berkeley, Ca.)

Art direction-Phil Carroll Cover art and design-David Lance Goines

1 975, Fantasy~ Records Tenth and Parker Berkeley, Ca. 94710

The late Julian "Cannonball" Adderley (1928-1975) described Big Man as one of the most important projects of his career-a statement not to be taken lightly, considering his truly gigantic stature as a saxophonist, composer, and bandleader. Born in Tallahassee, Florida, Cannonball gathered his early experience as a student and then a teacher and school band director in that state. As everyone should know by now, his celebrated nickname is actually a corruption of "Cannibal," which was what schoolmates called him in recognition of his eating prowess. Adderley first visited New York in 1955, where one night of unscheduled "sitting in" with Oscar Pettiford's band led to instant acclaim and his first recording contract, with Mercury. Except for two years with Miles Davis (in the incredible group that also included John Coltrane and Bill Evans), he led his own groups; always prominently including his brother Nat. He reached lasting stardom as a club, concert, and recording artist in 1960, aided by such hits as "This Here," "Work Song," and "Jive Samba" on the Riverside label, followed by "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," "Country Preacher," and others for Capitol. He became a Fantasy artist in 1973. His untimely death following a stroke ended a career that was also highlighted by his personal warmth, his articulateness as a speaker and writer, and his deep involvement with human rights causes. He leaves a rich musical legacy that very importantly includes his first score for a musical play-Big Man.

Nat Adderley has been his brother's constant and vitally important colleague for two decades-preceded by and interspersed with work for such other leaders as Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, and J. J. Johnson. During this time he has also pursued a successful recording career of his own, and has written such frequently- recorded jazz classics as "Work Song" and "Jive Samba." He collaborated with Cannonball on the score of Big Man.

Joe Williams gained world-wide fame with Count Basie's orchestra, starting his seven years with that band by recording, in 1955. what became one of Basie's all-time greatest hits, "Every Day (I Have the Blues)." Williams had first attracted major attention in the Chicago area, where he appeared with-among many others- jazz greats Coleman Hawkins and Lionel Hampton. Following his Basie period, Williams has remained a notable nightclub performer and recording artist, recognized as one of the foremost blues and ballad singers of our times.

Twenty-one.year.old Randy Crawford, born in Macon Georgia and raised in Cincinnati, started singing in church as a child. Her first professional experience, at age 16, was at the Playboy Bar in Cincinnati. This led to a scheduled three-week engagement in St. Tropez, where audience reaction was so strong she remained for five months. She has worked at clubs and appeared frequently on TV in Cincinnati. Big Man
marks her recording debut.

Robert Guillaume, who played the title role in Purlie on tour and during its return visit to Broadway, was seen Off-Broadway in Chadie Was Here and Now He's Gone, and had a long run in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well... in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.

Diane Lampert has run a full musical circle as lyricist: from country, pop, soul, and rock to folk opera and jazz; from theater and TV to nightclubs and motion pictures- including the song for the Academy Award nominee, Silent Running (sung by Joan Baez). She is currently working with composer Peter Schieckele on the musical Nell Gwen, The Protestant Whore. With lyricist Peter Farrow, she created the score for NBC-TV's O'Halloran's Luck, starring Art Carney and BarbaraCook. Big Man represents a 13-year effort for Lampert and even more for Farrow, whose original story, based on the legend of John Henry, has been adapted as a musical play by Paul Avila Mayer and George W. George. (Lampert and George collaborated on the record-album treatment of the material.)

George W. George began as a screenwriter and shifted to producing on Broadway, presenting Sir Alec Guinness in Dylan, Sandy Dennis in Any Wednesday, and most recently, Night Watch, which he also co-produced as a film starring Elizabeth Taylor. Paul Avila Mayer has adapted for Off-Broadway, Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Autnor (a 1964 Obie winner), and for Broadway, Strindberg's Dance of Death. He is originator/head writer/executive producer of the 1975 ABC-TV series, Ryan's Hope.

John Henry is rooted in classic Americana-
in hearsay, recollections, and tall tales. This album has nothing to do with any of them, and everything to do with all of them. Add all the legends that have grown over more than half a century, and John Henry was born "99 foot high, with his feet in the valley and his head in the sky," come to West Virginia to help his people, barely out of slavery, labor at Big Bend Tunnel on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad ("with a hammer swinging in each my hand/gonna tunnel us thru to the Promiselan"').
The appeal of the John Henry legend-man versus machine, man against the establishment-is immortalized in the idea of a man who beat a machine with brute strength ("Jesus, I'm as tall as you with a hammer in my hand"). His goal is "to beat that engine down by the skin of his bones." But a strange thing happened on the way-John Henry discovered love and mortality, and so the triumph and tragedy of John Henry transcends automation.
The John Henry we sing about is no mere steel driver pitted against the steam drill. Like modern man he stands in awe, in self-doubt, before the machines that unman him. But this man met the challenge- "I'll whup that drill, until the sun stand still or die with a hammer in my hand, Great God." He is our representative, our folk hero, against this giant enemy.
John Henry beat the machine but he couldn't stop it-so what did he really do? Well, he gave us what he had. He won even though he lost. He confirms that man's hope is still alive-that the old values really count, that you really can change things. We shall overcome, we shall be victorious, one of these days it's really gonna happen. John Henry is man's search through the centuries for a leader- "a new kind of Lord for this Jesusless world."

-Diane Lampert

The sides of these records have been positioned to play in sequence on an automatic turntable.