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The Cannonball Adderley Quintet Them Dirty Blues (Riverside 1960)

As a soloist in the Parker tradition, Cannonball Adderley took New York by storm in 1955, releasing solid albums for various labels in the following years. After a succesful stint of fourteen months with Miles Davis, contributing to quintessential albums such as Milestones and Kind Of Blue, at the end of 1959 Julian “Cannonball” Adderley really had got his act together band-wise. Brother Nat rejoined Cannonball after a variety of jobs, (J.J. Johnson, Woody Herman) landing safely in front of the red hot rhythm section of drummer Louis Hayes and bassist Sam Jones. The fruits of this renewed Adderley labor – The Cannonball Adderley Quintet In San Francisco and Them Dirty Blues – created quite a buzz through a succesful marriage between bebop and the soulful, funky side of jazz.

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Personnel

Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone), Nat Adderley (trumpet), Bobby Timmons (piano A2, A4, B2), Barry Harris (piano A1, A3, B1, B3), Sam Jones (bass), Louis Hayes (drums)

Recorded

on February 1, 1960 at Reeves Sound Studio, NYC and March 29 at Ter-Mar Recording Studio, Chicago

Released

as RLP 1170 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Work Song
Dat Dere
Easy Living
Del Sasser
Side B:
Jeannine
Soon
Them Dirty Blues


The title track is indeed a low down and dirty blues, yet in spite of its juke joint charisma, as far as excitement is concerned stays a mile or so behind the three well-known classic cuts of the album, Work Song, Dat Dere and Duke Pearson’s Jeannine. Nat Adderley’s Work Song is one of the modern jazz gems. It still sounds fresh and fiery after all these years and through its imaginative theme and on-target breaks keeps reminding us of the Southern chain gang and the way it used song for dearly needed discipline and comfort.

Nat Adderley recorded his signature tune just a couple of weeks earlier, on January 27, 1960, on his Riverside album Work Song. It’s an unusual take including pizzicato cello and although Hayes and pianist Bobby Timmons are also present, as well as master guitar player Wes Montgomery, it lacks the fire and urgency of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet’s effort.

Bobby Timmons’ Dat Dere, a gospel-tinged beauty, has an interesting bridge after the stand-out solo’s of the brothers Adderley and Timmons, consisting of a few jumpin’ choruses and a return to the sassy melody via a variation on that melody; simultaneously soulful and intelligent. During the recording of Them Dirty Blues, Timmons returned to Art Blakey’s group. They recorded a typically swinging and robust Dat Dere for the album The Big Beat a couple of months later in 1960. And Bobby Timmons’ trio take on his first album as a leader, This Here Is Bobby Timmons, recorded in the time span between Adderley’s en Blakey’s sessions, conceivably is injected with even a bigger shot of gospel feeling.

Timmons’ replacement in Adderley’s group, Barry Harris, brings his bag of trademark, Bud Powell-influenced bop piano playing. He’s excellent. Timmons’ style, though, adds more colour to the group.

The swinging Jeannine by Duke Pearson possesses a relentless drive. Cannonball wraps original phrases around the theme and the build-up of his solo is immaculate. Nat Adderley plays fluently and ends his turn on a note of exuberant joy. Louis Hayes and Sam Jones are responsible for a big part for the smoothly running train that is Jeannine. Three years of experience for Hayes as drummer in Horace Silver’s outfit indelibly left its mark. Sam Jones shows that he is one of the foremost executioners of the walking bass. Jeannine ends on a bass chorus, which is only appropriate, bearing in mind Sam Jones’ down-home, solid bass sound.

Jones also contributes a composition. The melody of Del Sasser sounds like one of those instantly recognizable Gerry Mulligan tunes, but inserted with much heavier swing.

Amidst upheaval in the jazz world at the end of 1959 – Ornette Coleman and his melodic and harmonic inventions inspiring unheard of controversy, and as the title of his third release somewhat hyperbolically stated, shaping the jazz to come, John Coltrane breaking serious ground with landmark recording Giant Steps – the joyful, funky and smart Them Dirty Blues nestled in the hearts and minds of audiences and musicians, firmly reminding them of the roots of jazz. Arguably, this particular (brand-new brand of funky jazz from The Cannonball Adderley Quintet laid down an evenly valid groundwork for the future.

Sonny Stitt - 12!

Sonny Stitt 12! (Muse 1972)

Nowadays, to define jazz is a Gargantuan task. It could mean such a hell of a lot. (and therefore, arguably, a lot of the time nothing at all) Nowadays, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis have become figures of mythic proportions. But in 1972, when Sonny Stitt’s 12! was recorded, jazz was at a low ebb after two decades wherein it had been a face with two odd sides. On the one hand, jazz – de facto still an affair of the in-crowd, had experienced a relatively meagre amount of attention in the US and Europe (certainly as compared to other, more traditional art forms) On the other hand, jazz did certainly not suffer from a shortage of clubs and record labels, and therefore a steady supply of work for musicians, however marked by hardship those conditions might’ve been. Speaking of 1972, those ‘relative’ days of wine and roses were over. And Sonny Stitt, who’d been there all the way and one of the great American jazz men who defined the era, still wasn’t a household name. Probably because he didn’t generate copy because of o.d’ing in a back alley or having hanged himself on the nearest shower rod.

Sonny Stitt - 12!

Personnel

Sonny Stitt (tenor saxophone, alto saxophone), Barry Harris (piano), Sam Jones (bass), Louis Hayes (drums)

Recorded

on December 12, 1972 in NYC

Released

as MR 5006 in 1972

Track listing

Side A:
12!
I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)
I Never Knew
Our Delight
Side B:
The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
Blues At The Tempo
Every Tub


Instead Sonny Stitt kept on playing, prolifically, relentlessly. In fact, 12! finds Stitt – 48 years old – in true form, fresh and energetic. Stitt may have been out of sight for a while and may have made a mediocre album here and there in the sixties, yet had a great run of recordings in the early seventies, delivering the outstanding works Tune Up, Constellation and 12!. People again had to pay attention.

The opener and title track immediately makes clear where Stitt’s been at. In a twelve-bar blues (hence the title) the experienced rhythm tandem of Louis Hayes and Sam Jones vigorously crank out the chord scheme and Stitt alternates between outrageously fast and cleanly executed bop runs and tasteful and shouting blues statements. He’s on alto saxophone here and is heard quoting See See Rider, a gesture pianist Barry Harris picks up on in his turn, playfully making a reference to the same classic blues song at the start of his well-balanced solo.

I Got It Bad, virtually synonymous to Johnny Hodges, is a fine ballad. The rest of 12! consists of another dose of blues and bebop. A highlight is I Never Knew; it starts with a jumpy vamp and thereafter, up-tempo and in 4/4 time, Stitt wraps up the story he’s been telling ever since battling with Gene Ammons in the forties. Barry Harris solidly flies through the changes. Harris’ declaration of independence has long since been sealed, yet, at the same time, on this tune and album, Harris throws in more than a bit of Bud Powell.

That should be enough to satisfy the customer, but there’s more where that came from. In the ultra-fast Every Tub, a piece that suggests that in bop there was injected more than a dose of jump ‘n’ jive, Stitt is stimulated to the core by the red hot rhythm section and launches into a high-voltage solo that remains interesting because of Stitt’s unlimited imagination. Stitt pulls out all the stops, ending a three minute immaculate bop course on a wailing note. He’s mean. This is the Sonny Stitt young lions were hesitant to stand shoulder to shoulder with on stage, the Sonny Stitt that on those occasions seemed to deliver the delirious, yet despite its madness utterly coherent message: Here comes Sonny!

On 12! Stitt is assisted by an almost equally experienced set of cats. Sam Jones played with about all of them; and one of his solo albums on Riverside being named Down Home gives you an idea of the bassist’s intentions. Jones and drummer Louis Hayes have been one of the most prominent and exciting rhythm sections in Cannonball Adderley’s Quintet from 1959 to 1964. (Jones played on more recordings of the quintet, notably on the classic Something Else) Barry Harris was a sought-after pianist and is well-known for contributing his soulful, robust style to Lee Morgan’s famous hit record The Sidewinder.

Sonny Stitt’s style pretty much stayed the same over the years, he wasn’t the ‘searching’-type. Stitt is what he is, an authority, an institution. In the fifties and sixties many set Stitt aside as a mere copyist and disciple of Charlie Parker, which was ridiculous. Of course, undeniably, more than in others, in Stitt one could easily hear Parker, sometimes as much as one could hear Parker in Parker. That is, on a superficial level. Stitt learned from that bunch of brilliant innovators that created the new music labeled ‘bebop’, which permeated jazz for years to come, and he played his part in it as well – influencing the likes of John Coltrane along the way. What Stitt was doing in the sixties and seventies was keeping the flame of bebop alive and in the process attributing to the sense that it still was alive, not only in Stitt, but also in the minds and works of the younger generation.

This is what Stitt was doing, year after year, mostly in classic quartet or quintet settings but other settings as well, authoritatively, occasionally a bit half-heartedly, but more often than not by blowing everybody’s brains out. In the manner that is immortalized, for instance, in the grooves of 12!.

You may or may not know all this or you may or may not have heard something along these lines before. It wouldn’t be surprising, since a batch of renowned critics such as Dan Morgenstern have been more than eager to praise or defend Stitt. I take it for granted because Sonny Stitt deserves it that the tale of his frequently unrecognised importance to the jazz heritage keeps being told; that the records are being kept straight.

YouTube: The Night Has A Thousand Eyes

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Carmell Jones Jay Hawk Talk (Prestige 1965)

At the time of recording his best solo effort, Jay Hawk Talk, trumpeter Carmell Jones was a member of Horace Silver’s group and as a consequence partook in creating Silver’s landmark recording Song For My Father. From that outfit he chose drummer Roger Humphries, whose solid beat underlines a splendid hard bop session.

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Personnel

Carmell Jones (trumpet), Jimmy Heath (tenor sax), Barry Harris (piano), George Tucker (bass), Roger Humphries (drums)

Recorded

on May 8, 1965 at RLA Sound Studio, NYC*

Released

as Prestige 7401 in 1965

Track listing

Side A:
Jay Hawk Talk
Willow Weep For Me
What Is This Thing Called Love
Side B:
Just In Time
Dance Of The Night Child
Beepdurple


Title track Jay Hawk Talk (penned by Jones, who hailed from Kansas, the Jayhawk State) is a stunner; an infectious vamp on par with such classics as Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder (featuring, incidentally, Barry Harris) or Herbie Hancocks Watermelon Man. Jones’ hard swinging, staccato lines set the tone and Barry Harris showcases the merit of spaciousness in blues soloing. Jimmy Heath is at the top of his form, stacking one energetic run upon another, squeaking and honking in Tranesque fashion.

Other selections include uptempo warhorse What’s This Thing Called Love and ballad Willow Weep For Me; it might best be described as ‘robust lyricism’. I would pick Dance Of The Night Child, one of three Jones originals on this album, as another stand out tune.

Carmell Jones is not a name that regularly popped up in lists of top trumpet players. Mildly disappointing; Jay Hawk Talk proves he could compete with the best of them.

• There is some confusion as to whether Jay Hawk Talk is recorded in either Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs in New Jersey or Richard Alderson’s RLA Sound Studio on West 65th Street, Manhattan in New York City.

Sometimes Van Gelder Studio, where the main part of Prestige’s catalogue is recorded, was unavailable; Prestige then habitually turned to, among others, RLA Sound Studio. Most sources credit Rudy van Gelder; on the record cover, however, it is stated that recordings took place at RLA. Therefore, Flophouse Magazine sticks to that version.

YouTube: Jay Hawk Talk