Jazz was undergoing a sea change in 1970 thanks to Miles Davis' electronic and structural breakthroughs, and his former sideman, Cannonball Adderley, was right in the thick of things (the two leaders shared musicians and traded influences during this period). Like Miles, the Adderleys expanded their canvas to double-LPs -- this live album being the first of a series in the double-pocket format -- and each side would be organized into nearly continuous medleys. Not only that, Cannonball still had Joe Zawinul on board, who greatly altered the texture of Cannonball's music with his floating electric piano and science-fiction interludes with a ring modulator (this would be his last album with the Quintet). Roy Booker had replaced Victor Gaskin on upright bass, Still, Cannonball was a populist at heart, and his generosity of spirit shines through this often deliciously diverse album, which ranges wildly from flat-out soul and funky grooves to Brazilian music (Milton Nascimento's "Bridges") and even possesses a cautious toe dip into the avant-garde ("Out and In"). It endures as such a document, too, since parts of it have been sampled by J Dilla, Pharcyde, Kwest the Madd Ladd, and Funkdoobiest. Along the way, we hear vocals from both Adderleys (including an exceedingly rare yet oddly charming one from Cannon on Milton Nascimento's challenging "Bridges"), a stunningly touching Cannonball testament on soprano in "Some Time Ago," and alto solos that definitely show that Cannonball had absorbed the Coltrane vocabulary. Guest Nat Adderley, Jr.'s clichéd anti-Nixon sloganeering on the title tune is just that (granted, he was only 15 years old), but his presence testifies to the close-knit, liberal family atmosphere that Cannonball encouraged. He more than compensates for it with his funky acoustic guitar playing backing his father's vocal on "Down in the Black Bottom" (the B-side for the album's rousing single "Get Up Off Your Knees") while a gospel Rhodes piano testifies. Another notable track is Zawinul's modal "Painted Desert" in its first recorded (and most likely edited) version. The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free is a fascinating snapshot of the Quintet in transition.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell