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Music Review: Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans – Know What I Mean?

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Know What I Mean by Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans is one of six new releases by The Concord Music Group in their ongoing Original Jazz Classics Remasters Series.

Cannonball Adderley, 1928-1975, was an influential and creative saxophonist who released close to 50 studio and live albums, in addition to being a prolific sideman during his three decade career. During the late 1950s he joined Miles Davis’ group for several years where he met pianist Bill Evans.

While he would achieve a great amount of recognition and commercial success with the Capital label during the mid to late 1960s, it was his time with the Riverside label, 1958-1963, that is considered his most important period. He released 17 albums for the label, but few more important than 1961’s Know What I Mean with Bill Evans. It now returns in a cleaned-up form thanks to 24-bit remastering. Orrin Keepnews, who produced the original recording sessions, returns to write the new liner notes. The original album notes by Joe Goldberg are also included as are three bonus tracks.

Adderley recorded the album with three supporting musicians. Bassist Percy Heath and drummer Connie Kay form a solid rhythm section. It was his old sidekick, Bill Evans, who proved to be the inspired choice. He was one of jazz music’s seminal pianists and his influence is felt throughout the album. His moody tempo changes meshed well with Adderley’s pulsing rhythms.

Two Evans tunes and one of his favorites appear on the album. “Waltz For Debby” was one of his most famous compositions. It was a true jazz waltz, written in 1956, and a constant part of his stage act. Adderley’s saxophone, as a central instrument, brings a new dimension to this piano classic. Evans’ title song was created especially for the album. The piano/sax interplay was reminiscent of their time with Miles Davis. Evans had previously recorded the Earl Zindars composition, “Elsa.” Here he changes some of the notes and adds Adderley’s saxophone to the mix.

“Toy” may be the most interesting track as Adderley’s playing goes more in an Ornette Coleman direction. “Goodbye” will always be associated with Benny Goodman. Composed during 1935, it served as his concert closer for a number or years. Adderley captures the textures and emotions just right. “Who Cares” is a welcome change of pace that allows Adderley and Evans to explore the basic theme.

Know What I Mean is a unique album in the Adderley catalogue as he moves his approach a little toward Evans’ style of music. While it comes close to being a duet album, ultimately Adderley’s saxophone soars above the mix in many places. It is an essential addition for any jazz collection.

 

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  • Anonymous

    By “guitar/sax interplay” you presumably meant “piano/sax interplay”?