Julian "Cannonball" Adderly was another Miles Davis alumnus just like Gerry Mulligan (here), and I've always dug the teamups with brother Nat on trumpet, so this Legends Live release of a 1969 recording is a treat not only for that but also the presence of Joe Zawinul on keyboards. In Rumpelstiltskin, Cannonball's irrepressible, taking the outside perimeter almost as soon as the track cuts in. The liner writer claims the gig as truly Joe's but I have to gently disagree, as Cannonball is in rare form. Yeah, Joe's a whiz kid, no argument from me, but Julian's every inch his equal, so much so that Nat can't quite measure up even while spiking the tone up.
Vic Gaskin (bass) and Roy McCurdy (drums) compose the rhythm section, McCurdy particularly adept on the percussion work, inventive while holding the bottom end down. One of the highlights of the gig is Zawinul's Painted Desert, an abstract 10-minutes letting Cannonball get sideways on the almost invisible melody, an evanescent suggestion that nonetheless lets him wail again, as in Rumpelstiltskin, stretching out and then pulling things back in. Nat counterposes his brother with a line prefiguring Little Anthony and the Imperials' Going out of my Head, and Joe breaks the song out with a piano that waxes Keith Emerson-esque.
Nat's Oh Babe sizes up a ton of Quincy, funky and slinky, the crowd falling in right behind, while the ensemble really works out on Diz's Blue and Boogie, a speedster blue plate special, my favorite of the disc and just as angular as Painted Desert on amphetamines, Cannonball shining. This was the era in which fusion birthed and grew rapidly in strength, and cuts like this show that very clearly. You could hardly want for better, and, yep, everyone's in great shape, but I'm tellin' ya: pay special attention to McCurdy's drum work. It's a thing of beauty.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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