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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cannonball Adderley, "The Cannonball Adderley Quintet at The Lighthouse"

Cannonball Adderly
"The Cannonball Adderly Quintet at The Lighthouse"
Riverside (1960)
1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die

Tom Moon dedicates most of his entry on the Cannonball Adderley Quintet to its notable feature: happiness. It’s tough to miss, between Cannonball’s preferred alto sax, his brother Nat’s cornet, and the styling of pianist Victor Feldman. Both of the Adderlys deliver quick, punchy solos while Feldman sounds like a British counterpart to Vince Guaraldi (of “Peanuts” TV-specials fame).

What Moon doesn’t emphasize enough in my opinion is how happy Cannonball the man is, regardless of his playing-style. Big-name jazz artists of that era were rarely the most cheerful of guys; Miles Davis (for whom Cannonball once played) was notoriously brisk, and John Coltrane was pragmatic at best, but Adderley is out and out having a blast. You can hear it in his playing, you can hear it in his bemused tone as he introduces each song, and you can hear it as he vocally urges his fellow band members along during solo passages.

The prevalence of solo passages isn’t unusual for bop, but the variety in who takes them is a quality generally advanced by hard bop. The Adderleys take their fair share but the time given to Feldman is surprising considering that Cannonball’s name is the one in the title. Bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes get their turns, particularly in “Our Delight” and “Sack O’ Woe” (which is ironically un-woeful).

One interesting point that Moon either didn’t mention or failed to catch was the irony in the locale where this album was recorded. The Lighthouse Club in Hermosa Beach, Calif., was a prominent jazz venue on the West Coast, where “cool jazz” was king. Cool jazz was more easygoing next to the bop and hard bop popular in New York City, but Adderly showed just how relaxed Easterners could be, even at bop’s heightened pace.

Adderley makes a great introduction to jazz for nearly anyone. His style isn’t the most whitewashed of stuff, but his friendly introductions walk the audience through each track, and his happy demeanor will keep your mood high, even through some truly blistering bop.

INTERESTING FACT: The Lighthouse Club, now called the Lighthouse Café, was a hotspot for live jazz recordings. Aside from the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, nine other live albums were recorded there.

Azule Serape (Live) by Cannonball Adderley Quintet on Grooveshark

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