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Music DVD Review: Cannonball Adderley – Live in ‘63

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Written by Fumo Verde

Once again Jazz Icons brings us another master of the sax, alto this time, with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. This DVD contains two shows which only scratches the surface of the talent of this man. Adderlly didn’t come from the so-called “jazz cities” such as New York, Chicago, or St. Louis; his roots are planted in the southern state of Florida, where he honed his talents with brother Nat. As Rollins is to the tenor, Cannonball is to the alto and the spirit Adderley sure comes alive in these recordings.

Adderly plays with his sextet that includes such great musicians as a Sam Jones on bass, Yuesf Lateef on tenor sax, flute, and oboe. Brother Nat is also there on cornet along with Louis Hayes on drums and Joe Zawinul on piano. Adding these three instruments definitely gives a full body sound to what the sextet are looking for. Adderley knows how to use this fullness too. Be it big band, swing, or bebop, Adderley keeps it fresh and moving.

First show out of the box was in Lugano, Switzerland on March 24, 1963. The film looks old, like from a Jackie Gleason show but once the music starts the old-looking film just adds flavor to the project at hand. “Jessica’s Day” by Quincy Jones, originally named “Jessica’s Birthday,” opens up the show and it had me bopping about as I read through the 24-page booklet with liner notes and pictures. This show also includes “Dizzy’s Business,” “Trouble in Mind,” “Bohemia After Dark,” “Work Song,” and “Unit 7,” and of course, one of Cannonball’s most recognized tunes, “Jive Samba.” Let me not forget “Angel Eyes” where Lateef puts down his sax and picks up the flute. Coming off of a big booming jam like “Jessica’s Day”, “Angel Eyes” draws down the tempo, giving the show a softer side. “Jive Samba” follows it with its Latin flavor and quick tempo; the Swiss crowd gets into the rhythm.

The second show is in a studio, giving it that polished feel. It was in Baden-Baden, West Germany, March 22, 1963 and contained the same sextet from the former show. Adderley tells the German host while being questioned between sets that with the addition of Yuesf Lateef don’t just make them a sextet, because of the many instruments Lateef can play. They open with “Jessica’s Day” and play it with a ferocity. This is followed by “Brother John,” which starts out slow and soothing but picks up the tempo, giving Cannonball the chance to let his sax wail and weep. They close with “Jive Samba” ending the night on an up-rhythm drive. The brilliance of talent of which Adderly has brought together makes this DVD a rare treasure to unearth.

One thing I have to say or Jazz Icons, they sure know how to keep alive the great musicians of a time where most only remember the Rock ‘n’ Roll songs of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Cannonball Adderley – Live in ‘63 is a must-own for any jazz enthusiast or lover of music. Adderley is one of jazz’s most influential players and his music will be around for years to come, starting with this DVD here.

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