Julian "Cannonball" Adderley – Somethin' Else (1958)

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by Nick DeRiso

What an unmitigated triumph for all involved. And what a cast it is: There’s Miles and Cannon, course. (Adderley had left his own group in 1957 to join Miles.)

But there’s more: Oh-so-cool, oh-so-old school pianist Hank Jones, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Art Blakey, associated with the the then-new school of hard hop. Hard bop and MILES? Fertile, indeed.

No one disappoints … least of all Miles — who was, after all, involved with Charlie Parker (certainly a “hot” player) on what I think of as Bird’s best work. Blakey, turns out, is tasteful and understated throughout. They all can be: Pay special attention to the Latin undertones from all three soloists in “Love for Sale.”

[ONE TRACK MIND: Jazz pianist Michael Wolff talks about key moments with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Warren Zevon, Charlie Hunter, Joe Zawinul and his band Impure Thoughts.]

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of heart — in fact, at times a little more than their more famous collaboration a year later — 1959’s “Kind of Blue.”

The title track can be well-regarded as Adderley and Davis’ most sympathetic pairing (since to my mind Coltrane so dominates in response on “Kind of Blue”). Miles murmurs his solo phases … each simple, short, brilliant — all bolstered and fleshed out with the fat and easy echoing of Cannonball.

Love Jones’ piano work there, too — a nod to Bill Evans in that block chord style. Jones, of course, was no novice, though. “That delicate touch of Hank’s,” Miles told Leonard Feather, “there’s so few that can get it. Bill Evans and Shearing and Teddy Wilson have it. Art Tatum had it.”

Cannonball closes out with a showcase on “Dancing in the Dark,” at Miles’ insistence — but by then I’ve almost become certain that this is the lesser-known, but very worthy, companion piece to “Kind of Blue” that every Miles fan should have.

See, it actually IS kind of blue — if only because Adderley breathes so much soul into any side.

Scratch that every-Miles-fan comment. Make it: This is the lesser-known, but very worthy, companion piece to “Kind of Blue” that every JAZZ fan should have.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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