Cannonball Adderley ‘Complete Live in Tokyo 1963’ 2CD (Solar Records) 5/5

cannonball-adderleyOriginally released on Riverside records as a single vinyl LP that contained just five lengthy interpretations, this is the complete concert edition that trumps all previous CD re-issues of the various concerts in Japan during 1963, and is a stunning testimony to this terrific group in its prime with brother Nat on cornet and Cannonball even acting as vocalist as well as his famous repartee wit. What really propels this formation of the Cannonball Adderley sextet is the inclusion of both multi-reedist Yusef Lateef and keyboardist Joe Zawinul, here still an acoustic pianist and several years before co-founding Weather Report with Wayne Shorter.
Naturally the classic Cannonball repertoire is included and this veers strongly towards the melodic soul-jazz side of things , which was always an Adderley virtue. Particularly strong are the readings of ‘Work song’, ‘Dis here’ and a terrifically catchy version of ‘The jive samba’. Indeed Latin grooves are not far from the surface on ‘Primitivo’, which Adderley first recorded with the Sergio Mendes group. The rhythm section here is first-rate with Sam Jones on bass and Louis Hayes on drums and there is some interesting standard material such as ‘Easy to love’ and, interestingly, a take on Ellington’s ‘Come Sunday’. Cannonball’s visit to Japan served as the inspiration for the title track which is a seldom heard self-composition and underrated at that. The original album became an unexpected hit on both the Billboard jazz chart, reaching the number five spot, and a minor pop success, climbing to one hundred and sixty-nine. That may not seem especially high, but remember even ‘Kind of Blue’ did not originally figure in the top two hundred upon its original release. For fans of the modal side of jazz, however, the jewel in the crown here must surely be an extended take on ‘Brother John’, which Lateef later reworked for Impulse barely a year later. This significantly expanded edition boosts the tracks presented from five to nineteen with only a few second takes. Arguably, this is the finest formation of Cannonball Adderley’s illustrious career as a leader and one that is indispensable for any serious jazz fan.

Tim Stenhouse