Cannonball Adderley: Somethin’ Else
The Adderley family of Tallahassee, Florida, was a musical one. The father, Julian C., primarily an educator but also a respected cornetist, encouraged his two sons to follow their own musical interests. Son Nat, doing as his dad, took up the cornet, while his brother, Julian E., chose alto sax. In high school, young Julian’s voracious appetite earned him the knick name “Cannibal,” which morphed into “Cannonball,” the name that stuck with him for the rest of his life and career.
After graduating from Florida A&M University in 1948, where he studied both brass and reed instruments, Cannonball moved on to Florida’s Broward County, where in addition to serving as Band Director at Ft. Lauderdale’s Dillard High School, he established himself, through his gigging, as a local legend. Too good to restrict himself to Florida, though, Cannonball, along with his brother Nat, moved in 1955 to New York City, where he formed the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, did a little freelancing, and soon established himself as a real force in the city, considered by some to be the heir to his hero, Charlie Parker. It was about this time that he caught the attention of Miles Davis, and before long he was asked to join the legendary trumpeter’s group.
And now to our subject: the recording Somethin’ Else. While a member of the Miles Davis Quintet, Cannonball received an invitation from Blue Note Records to record an album as leader. Jumping at the opportunity, he assembled a veritable pantheon of the era’s jazz musicians, including his boss, Miles Davis himself, who recorded as a sideman only very rarely, most notably with Charlie Parker. Others on the date were Hank Jones, piano; Sam Jones (no relation), bass; and Art Blakey, drums.
Somethin’ Else is an accessible performance of a fine playlist that showcases the talents of five giants of jazz. Cannonball Adderley certainly lives up to his reputation, playing his trademark exuberant style, sometimes bluesy, sometimes boppish. Miles is sultry and expressive, using his Harmon mute on most tracks. Hank Jones is impeccable in both his comping and soloing—tasteful, imaginative, appropriate. Art Blakey, also playing appropriately to the date, is unusually restrained, and hooks up with the bassist Sam Jones in a real partnership of support.
Arrangements are by Miles and Cannonball on the album, which was engineered by everybody’s favorite of that time, Rudy Van Gelder, in Van Gelder’s Hackensack, New Jersey, studio. Sometimes compared with the iconic Miles Davis Sextet album Kind of Blue, which of course also included Cannonball and was recorded a year later, Somethin’ Else is no doubt one of the greatest modern jazz albums ever recorded, earning for itself a place in the collection of every fan of the music.
Julian Cannonball Adderley. He was somethin’ else.
RVG Edition Release Date: March, 1999
Label: Blue Note Records
Copyright: (C) 1999 Blue Note Records
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