Most of the albums that Nat Adderley recorded in the '60s employed a saxophonist; Yusef Lateef, Joe Henderson and Charlie Rouse were among the tenor heavyweights he featured. But Naturally! is an exception to that rule. Produced by Orrin Keepnews for Jazzland in 1961, Naturally! was the cornetist's first album of quartet performances. Adderley uses two different rhythm sections on this date. One consists of three players he knew from brother Cannonball's group: bassist Sam Jones, drummer Louis Hayes, and pianist Joe Zawinul (nine years before Weather Report). The other rhythm section is comprised of musicians who had worked as Miles Davis' sidemen: pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones. And whatever rhythm section he is working with, Adderley never has a saxophonist on these performances -- most of which have a strong Miles Davis influence and a relaxed sense of swing. Adderley goes for a fast, busy sound on Sonny Rollins' "Oleo" -- which lends itself to that type of approach -- but the cornetist is a lot more relaxed and economical on "Love Letters," "Chloe," and the title track. For the most part, Naturally! is a bop album, although Adderley gets into a modal post-bop groove on Sonny Red's "Images." Red, an alto saxophonist with a definite Charlie Parker/Jackie McLean influence, was hell-belt for bop most of the time -- and "Images" (which sounds like a combination of John Coltrane's "Impressions" and Kurt Weill's "Speak Low") isn't typical of his writing. Nonetheless, it's a great, if overlooked, tune that works nicely for Adderley, who was 29 when he recorded this solid and pleasing (if less than essential) album.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson