Julian "Cannonball" Adderley arrived in New York from Tallahassee in the 1950s, where he had a job on his hands to play his way out of the shadow of Charlie Parker a major challenge for any alto saxophonist of the day. But the move worked. Before long, Miles Davis had brought him into his quintet to play alongside Coltrane, and in 1958 Adderley was offered a chance by Alfred Lion to record an album under his own name. Something Else is arguable the best Blue Note album of all time. The following year, Adderley achieved immortality with Kind of Blue.
After splitting with Miles, he brought his brother Nat into the band as a trumpeter and cornetist and embarked on the helter-skelter life of a gigging musician. Throughout the decade when pop ruthlessly swept jazz aside, the brothers managed to stay in business with their distinctive spirit of the south an optimistic, life-affirming style of modern jazz, bursting with colour yet steeped in the blues. When we have a hit going for us, Julian once said, 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.
In 1969 Julian set out on a European tour with brother Nat, Joe Zawinul, the dynamic bassist Victor Gaskin and the energetic Roy McCurdy on drums. One of the quintets guest appearances was in Stuttgart. Even during the sound check the musicians seemed to sense the Liederhalles unique atmosphere, for that evenings concert would be the highlight of the tour. From soul and blues (Sweet Emma, Oh Babe), to free-form contemporary (The Painted Desert), and lollipops cleverly combined with commercialism (Work Song), the audience that night witnessed the sublime art of the quintet never mind that this classic bebop formation was already on the wane.
And then there was Zawinul! If anything, it was his concert. Jet-black at the keyboard in his version of Why Am I Treated So Bad by the Staples Singers; swinging and quirky at the piano (Rumpelstiltskin, The Painted Desert), he was like a kobold stoking the fire, as if trying to shake of the hypnosis that had gripped him a month earlier while recording In A Silent Way.
When one thing stops, something new always comes along. Things Are Getting Better. The following year the Adderley Brothers experimented with big band collages and world music. Zawinul formed Weather Report and rocketed to worldwide fame. But the concert of March 1969 endures the legacy of a unique quintet. Soulful and swinging, a timeless classic to this day.
180 Gram Vinyl
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Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, acoustic sax
Nat Adderley, trumpet
Joe Zawinul, piano, keyboards
Victor Gaskin, bass
Roy McCurdy, drums
2. Sweet Emma
3. Oh Babe
1. Why Am I Treated So Bad?
2. The Painted Desert
3. Work Song
Recorded live at Liederhalle Stuttgart, March 20, 1969