The late 1960s and early 1970s period in Cannonball Adderley’s illustrious career, when he was part of the major label roster on Capitol records, is currently the subject of a major re-investigation, and this latest re-issue is a particularly fine example of how Cannonball’s band sounded both soulful and spiritual in a live context. Dating from 1971, the line-up from a live evening performance at the legendary Troubadour club in Los Angeles where at the time the likes of Carole King and James Taylor would ply their trade is outstanding and includes: a young George Duke in fine form on fender rhodes, bassist Walter Booker, drummer Roy McCurdy augmented by Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira (fresh from duties with Miles’ electric band), guest tenorist Ernie Watts, and last, but by no means least brother Nat Adderley on cornet. The leader himself alternates between alto and soprano saxophones. Long-term favourite numbers are revisited in elongated form, with the groove-laden ‘Walk Tall’ the centrepiece and something of a soul-jam atmosphere with Duke departing on a lengthy solo and fitting in wah-wah sound effects. The band collectively really stretch out on the opener, the twelve-minute extended work out of, ‘The Brakes’, with brother Nat sounding inspired by Miles from the ‘Sketches of Spain’ period. A more intimate kind of groove is created on ‘Capricorn’, a piece that was part of a studio project devoted to the Zodiac signs and available on a separate studio album.
Lengthy new inner sleeve notes from music journalist Bill Kopp place this recording in a wider context and it ties in with a previously re-issued 2LP/2CD re-issue, ‘The Black Messiah’, that surfaced from the same period and is an indispensable companion to the current re-issue. In 1976, the year after Cannonball Adderley’s premature and untimely death, producer David Axelrod went back into the studios and compiled recordings that did not originally feature on ‘Black Messiah’ and these were subsequently released that same year. These are no mere additions or outtakes, but rather serve to provide us with a more comprehensive vision of Cannonball Adderley’s prodigious output, and one thing is for sure: both the leader and band were in superb form and this latest re-issue demonstrates why.