During Cannonball Adderley's tenure with Capitol Records, his Quintet cut 18 albums. Of those, at least ten were live. Whether captured in clubs, concert halls, or studios with invited audiences, the feel was spontaneous. Playing to a crowd brought out the best they had to offer without overdubs or other sweetening. Music, You All is a testament to that -- even if it is a bit of an anomaly. These performances were recorded at L.A.'s folk venue The Troubadour over seven nights in August 1971. In 1972, Capitol released the double-album The Black Messiah as their first fruit. After the saxophonist's death in 1975, producer David Axelrod -- who directed the engineers during recording -- went into the vaults and listened to the complete tapes from those shows. He compiled this collection, structured it as a top-to-bottom single gig, and the label released it to mark the one-year anniversary of Adderley's passing. It shouldn't be a surprise that in cherry-picking performances, Axelrod assembled one of the group's finest outings. The Quintet -- Cannonball and Nat Adderley (saxophones and cornet, respectively), bassist Walter Booker, electric pianist George Duke, and drummer Roy McCurdy -- was appended by saxophonist Ernie Watts, guitarist Mike Deasy, and percussionist Airto Moreira. Just under 50 minutes long, this album not only doesn't take a back seat to The Black Messiah, it is arguably stronger than its predecessor. "The Brakes," a hard bop number, opens. The head is blues-based, but Duke stacks modal chords in the backdrop. McCurdy's swing, whether syncopating or adding Latin tinges, gives Cannonball a fine foundation to solo from (he even quotes the Beatles' "Daytripper") and Nat follows superbly. Duke's classic, spacy, spiritual soul tune "Capricorn" is one of the album's best moments; his soloing and painterly backdrops bridge so many traditions it's tough to count them all. The hard soul-jazz vibe in "Walk Tall" (by Zawinul) gets greasy treatment thanks to Deasy's distorted wah-wah guitar, three vamping horns, Booker's driving, funky bassline, and Duke's middle-register percussive solo. "Oh, Babe" is a choogling jazz blues with Nat offering a silky smooth vocal as everybody else solos grittily. After a two-minute Cannonball rap -- erudite, witty, and hip, naturally -- the title track enters as a gentle but abstract improvisation between Airto, Nat, and Booker, then picks up steam as the band enters. First it shapeshifts into an incantatory modal electric jazz rock tune, then into a spiritual soul-jazz jam that caves under a screaming Deasy rock solo before concluding with straight-ahead, hard bop featuring a walking bassline and fingerpopping solos from both Adderleys. Axelrod delivers a great tribute to his friend on Music, You All. It reveals exactly who this band was during this juncture. All their rawness, interactive creativity, humor, and sophistication are captured at peak power.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek