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Cannonball Adderley

The Very Best Of

Riverside / Concord Music Group

I'm working through a stack of Riverside jazz releases, and this one from Julian Edwin "Cannonball" Adderley is the most melodic of the lot. Adderley played alto sax, and while the hard bop ethos permeates his arrangements, he never completely abandons hummable melodies and reasonable rhythm structures.

"Things Are Getting Better" almost sounds like a riff on "Walk Right In" or "Jada." It moves along with a sprinkling of vibraphones (Milt Jackson) and a steady drum beat from dear old Art Blakely. The quiet and introspective "Know What I Mean?" might be the most radical track here; Adderley's sax takes wing, and while never dissonant, it refuses to stay in step with any of the other instruments. Another slow number is the moody "Winetone." Adderley hangs back, and again it's the vibes that catch my ear, this time from Victor Feldman.

Every cut here is a gem, and my favorite composition is the redo of "The Work Song" performed in Tokyo. There's a threatening sax riff on the open, a challenging response by Nat Adderley's cornet, and then a burst of jazz hands and dancers moving bananas around the loading dock and swatting tarantulas. Well, that's what I see; your hallucinations may be different.

Concord Music Group: www.concordmusicgroup.com