Cannonball Adderley

Julian "Cannonball" Adderley

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Julian "Cannonball" Adderley (nicknamed for his estimable appetite, related to high school friends who called him a cannibal) made his debut in the jazz world with this album, with enormous help from Quincy Jones, who assembled the band, lent arrangements, and composed many of the selections. It's clear from the outset that Adderley's main influences were Benny Carter and Charlie Parker, and he was able to synthesize both icons into a sound that was so seamless, and tasteful like butter. This little big band of all-stars included brother Nat Adderley on cornet, and a band with slight personnel changes over three separate recording sessions in the late summer of 1955. Adderley could hardly go wrong working with heavyweights like J.J. Johnson, Cecil Payne, Jerome Richardson, Jimmy Cleveland, Paul Chambers, pianist John Williams, and either Max Roach or Kenny Clarke playing the drum kit. To play original compositions penned by another on a first effort is a bold step, but it works well and expresses great trust between the soloist and ostensible producer. Of the pieces contributed by Jones, "Hurricane Connie" is the simplest but most impressive track with all five horns playing together in hard bop accord, "Fallen Feathers" reflects the Count Basie/Kansas City approach to modern jazz, while "Willow" is the lightest song in a modal calypso, showing the most arranged construct. Jones and Adderley collaborated writing "Cannonball," but it's mostly a solo for the alto saxophonist over the well-swung nonet, and "Everglade" is an effortless, glossy, ting-ting Latin chart as Adderley expresses his voice in a slightly vocal vibrato. Of the standards, there's a cover of the swing standard "Rose Room" where Adderley's alto meshes more with the other horn players, "The Song Is You" has the leader stepping forward asserting his song style voicings, and "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" has a unique chamber-style arrangement. Nothing on the album screams as a standout, but there's an even-keeled consonance that is very enjoyable, and lingers to the point where you want to listen again and again. That enduring quality makes this recording special, and set the bar high for what Adderley would produce through a long and fruitful career as a jazz master. This album is the seed for that field of flowers.

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