The Jimmy Heath Orchestra - Really Big!

The Jimmy Heath Orchestra Really Big! (Riverside 1960)

‘Little Bird’ was a nickname that soon wore off as Jimmy Heath developed into a saxophonist, composer and arranger with a singular style. By 1960, Heath had recorded his second album for Riverside, the bright and muscular Really Big!, including, yes, Clark Terry, yes, Cannonball Adderley and, yes, Tommy Flanagan.

The Jimmy Heath Orchestra - Really Big!

Personnel

Jimmy Heath (tenor saxophone), Clark Terry (flugelhorn, trumpet), Nat Adderley (trumpet), Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone), Pat Patrick (baritone saxophone), Tom McIntosh (trombone), Dick Berg (French horn), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Cedar Walton (piano), Percy Heath (bass), Albert Heath (drums)

Recorded

on June 24 & 28, 1960 in NYC

Released

as RLP 333 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Big P.
Old Fashioned Fun
Mona’s Mood
Dat Dere
Side B:
Nails
On Green Dolphin Street
My Ideal
Picture Of Heath


Awhile ago I was observing pianist Barry Harris, 87, who sat listening to drummer Eric Ineke and colleagues play in a cozy club in The Hague, The Netherlands. I realised that I wasn’t only looking at Barry Harris, but also at Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. A giant among GIANTS. The same applies for Jimmy Heath, 90, who titled his memoirs I Walked With Giants and, lest we forget, recorded with Harris on a number of occasions, notably on Carmell Jones’ Jay Hawk Talk (Prestige 1965) and Jimmy Heath’s Picture Of Heath (Xanadu 1975).

Heath has been active since the late forties, when he led his first big band, which included fellow Philadelphians John Coltrane, Benny Golson, Ray Bryant, Cal Massey and Johnny Coles. Subsequently, he joined Dizzy Gillespie’s Orchestra and worked briefly with Miles Davis after Coltrane’s departure from the trumpeter’s quintet. During an impressive career, Heath worked extensively with Milt Jackson, Art Farmer and his illustrious brothers Percy and Albert in the sixties. He worked to a greater extent with them from the late seventies as the exciting recording and working band The Heath Brothers. To his composer’s credit, C.T.A., Gingerbread Boy and Gemini have become standards. The number of features is lengthy. Titles as J.J. Johnson’s The Eminent J.J. Johnson Vol. 1, Miles Davis’ Miles Davis Vol. 2, Nat Adderley’s That’s Right!, Freddie Hubbard’s Hub Cap, Red Garland’s The Quota and Albert “Tootie” Heath’s Kwanza serve as a reminder of the continous high level Jimmy Heath was operating on. Hammond B3 geek info: Heath also appeared on Charles Earland’s Black Drops and Don Patterson’s masterpiece These Are Soulful Days.

Fortunately, quite a few of Heath’s generation are still alive, not only playing but teaching as well. Like Barry Harris, Charles Persip, Harold Mabern and Julian Priester, Jimmy Heath is a teacher. He’s a conductor as well. Heath conducted the renowned German WDR Orchestra a year and a half ago. Reportedly, his methods revealed the sensitivity of an elder statesman for which notation is important but a secondary aspect. For Heath, the motion of rhythm and melody is paramount. He’s funny and points the way with charmingly oblique remarks. Rest assured the band will swing. Truly irreplacable jewels of jazz, these old-school musicians who were close to The Source of Bird and Coltrane and pushed some fat envelopes themselves.

56 years before the event of the WDR appearance, Heath led a band for his Really Big! Riverside date consisting of trumpeters Clark Terry and Nat Adderley, alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, baritone saxophonist Pat Patrick, trombonist Tom McIntosh, French horn player Dick Berg, either Tommy Flanagan or Cedar Walton on piano, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath. In a thoroughly blasting sound scape, brass and reed do an ongoing paso doble. The sophisticated use of the French horn in the ballad Mona’s Mood and the Bobby Timmons gem Dat Dere is an extra treat. Trumpeter Clark Terry’s another treat, supplying hi-level fun. He soars joyfully and fluently through the changes, demonstrating that his playing in the high-register is nonpareil. Cannonball’s got short spots, yet is his uplifting self and chimes in with some meaty little stories.

Highlights include the band’s mellow but driving take on Dat Dere, the way Clark Terry nails the buoyant theme bookended by swinging 4/4 sections of Nails, Tommy Flanagan’s sizzling bopology (quoting Now’s The Time/The Hucklebuck) of Picture Of Heath and the leader’s gentle but probing reading of My Ideal and driving uptempo tale of Old Fashioned Fun. Much like early Coltrane, Heath favors a multi-note approach. Soaring bop figures segue into wails and flow back to wonderfully constructed lines. Pretty hypnotic. Like Benny Golson, Heath’s ambidexterity is imposing, the blowing deparment equally impressive as his talent for arranging and composing. Really Big’s a superb case in point.

Cannonball Adderley - Inside Straight

Cannonball Adderley Inside Straight (Fantasy 1973)

Inside Straight, the last great album by Cannonball Adderley, who passed away in 1975, is a live-in-the-studio recording, a trend not invented by Adderley and producer David Axelrod as such, but definitely popularised through their earlier albums. It’s a superior jazzfunk date by an artist who stays true to himself while being in sync with contemporary developments at the same time.

Cannonball Adderley - Inside Straight

Personnel

Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone), Nat Adderley (cornet), Hal Galper (electric piano), Walter Booker (bass), Roy McCurdy (drums), King Ericsson (percussion)

Recorded

on June 4, 1973 at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California

Released

as FT 517 in 1973

Track listing

Side A:
Introduction
Inside Straight
Saudade
Inner Journey
Side B:
Snake In The Grass
Five Of A Kind
Second Son
The End


1963’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy was a superb in-house session, (the cover erronously credited ‘The Club’) yet it’s 1960’s smash hit The Cannonball Adderley Quintet In San Francisco (recorded at The Jazz Workshop) that is generally credited with influencing the road live jazz production would travel. The method: put a small, appreciative (mainly standing room only-) crowd in a cozy place containing attractive acoustics and production circumstances, and serve them enough libations to feel comfortable. (or slightly off-centre)

An added bonus of In San Francisco was the deadpan and eloquent manner in which Cannonball Adderley talked the audience through the show. It was an idea originally concocted by Adderley and producer Orrin Keepnews of Riverside.

In 1973, Adderley re-united with Keepnews, then head of the jazz department of Fantasy Records. And a Cannonball introductory talk is present on Inside Straight. The quintet then dives into the title track. Now that’s how you open a live album! A funkblues boogie connected through a hot line to the quintet’s seminal recording at a church meeting, Country Preacher of 1970, including a kick-ass bridge, an irresistable bass pattern locking thumbs with a solid drum groove, cocksure soulful phrases by Cannonball and, last but not least, a growling trumpet statement by Nat Adderley that is part deadpan humour, part boisterous mating call, Inside Straight is destined to sweep you out of your seat and prompt you to grab whoever’s around for a decidedly funky ritual dance.

Both Saudade and Inner Journey are groovy cuts with a Latin flavour and contain fluid Cannonball solo’s; Nat Adderley flies through Saudade in lyrical mode, resembling Chet Baker, albeit a funkified one. The atmosphere of these tunes, as of the whole album, is warm and beguiling, courtesy also of Hal Galper’s layers of electric piano sound and probing phrases. ‘Hot’ is an adjective most appropriate for Five Of A Kind, which moves from a slow build-up to a fast-paced bebop demonstration. It’s not groundbreaking, it’s not a masterpiece, but it’s rock solid.

Snake In The Grass is a slow deep funk cut that, containing more than proficient improvisation, would make George Clinton’s group sweat. Combining such seductive repertoire with keen musical experience and intellect, the Cannonball Adderley Quintet holds in near-perfect suspension the need to entertain and the search for musical truth.

Which, come to think of it, is more or less exemplary for the sum total of Cannonball Adderley’s recorded output.

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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.

Nat Adderley - That's Nat

Nat Adderley That’s Nat (Savoy 1955)

Only twelve days after locking arms with brother Cannonball on Presenting Cannonball Adderley, (Savoy, July 14, 1955) That’s Nat marked Nat Adderley’s recording debut as a leader. Conforming to the standard repertoire of the day – of those albums that might as well be called ‘Bop, Blues & Ballads’ – Nat Adderley stands out as a suburb player with a sharp style and soulful tone.

Nat Adderley - That's Nat

Personnel

Nat Adderley (cornet), Jerome Richardson (tenor), Hank Jones (piano), Wendell Marsh (bass), Kenny Clarke (drums)

Recorded

on July 26, 1955 in NYC

Released

as Savoy MG 12021 in 1955

Track listing

Side A:
Porky
I Married An Angel
Big E
Side B:
Kuzzin’s Buzzin’
Ann Springs
You Better Go Now


Like contemporaries Art Farmer and Chet Baker, trumpeter Nat Adderley does a swell job of handling the cornet, from which comes a warm and soothing sound. Confidently, in sync with Clifford Brown and in possession of a rich sound, Adderley’s walloping runs in Big E bring about vistas of a New Orleans parade with Nat leading the parade and blowing sirens over Treme rooftops in honor of life and the deceased.

The That’s Nat-session also features bop innovator Kenny “Klook” Clarke and pianist Hank Jones, in typically lighthearted mood, soloing elegantly and coherently and exuding rows of cascading triplets. Listening to Hank Jones is analogue to feeling a soft breeze blowing through your hair. Combined with the growing artistry of Nat Adderley, that would come into full bloom the following years in his brother’s group, That’s Nat is a solid solo career opening statement.

YouTube: Big E