An alto saxophonist whose huge sound matched his physique, Cannonball's blues-drenched playing brought a return to Jazz' roots into the sophisticated complexity of Bebop, while still focusing on the music's future. He influenced both hard blowers and R&B instrumental stylists with the explosively swinging groups he led with his brother, Nat. In this edition, George Lane looks back at one of Cannonball's great live recordings, Live in New York.
The great altoist Cannonball Adderley often recorded his groups before live audiences. Given the joyous and energetic spirit of relentless swing that his various groups (co-led with brother Nat on cornet) always brought to the bandstand, it makes a lot of sense. Feeding off the energy of a responsive crowd brings out the best of a hard-driving and exciting band like this.
The addition of tenor/oboe/flautist Yusef Lateef, who joined the group three weeks prior to this early 1962 date, adds a whole other dimension to this sparkling ensemble.
Multi-horn riffs behind solos, harmonic variety on heads and a sense of exoticism adds texture and versatility to an already outstanding group. This is most apparent on the flute-stated line over horn color of Jimmy Heath's 'Gemini' and Lateef's own 'Syn-anthesia,' featuring a slithering, hypnotic oboe solo. To my ears, Yusef did some of his finest playing with this group, and turns in some muscular and fiery tenor work on this recording as well.
Austrian-born pianist Joe Zawinul was a long-time member of this group before becoming a leader of the '70s fusion movement with Miles and Weather Report, and this was his first recording with Cannonball. His versatility and ultra-funky rhythmic approach was ideal for this group as he drives the band through all the rapid twists and turns.
Sam Jones' bass and Louis Hayes' drumming lock the groove down regardless of tempo, with Sam's powerful and edgy sound cutting through the rhythm like a switchblade.
Nat and Cannon are wonderful, as usual; Nat's sizzling solos contrasting well with Cannon's relentlessly swinging forays. Exploiting the entire range of the alto with overwhelming power and raw passion, every solo is an absolute delight.
Another explosive recording from this intense ensemble that thrived on the excitement generated by a receptive audience.