|The Cannonball Adderley Quintet - Live in San Francisco|
|Music Disc Reviews SACD|
|Written by Ben Shyman|
|Tuesday, 27 January 2004|
Known as “the new Bird,” Julian “Cannonball” Adderley made his debut shortly after Charlie Parker’s death in the late 1950s. Cannonball achieved popularity when he replaced Sonny Rollins in the Miles Davis Quintet in 1957. He played in the Davis sextet for several years, including alongside John Coltrane including on the legendary Kind of Blue. In September 1959, Cannonball and his brother Nat formed The Cannonball Adderley Quintet. The band features Cannonball Adderley (alto sax), Nat Adderley (cornet), Bobby Timmons (piano), Sam Jones (bass) and Louis Hayes (drums).
Although among the Quintet’s first recordings, In San Francisco has a groove and a chemistry that is characteristic of a band that has been playing together for years. Probably even better would be for me to say that this live performance sounds very alive and is quite enjoyable. Despite being recorded in 1959, every important nuance of the performance was clear and audible on my system. Hearing Cannonball snap his fingers throughout “Hi-Fly” and the frequent chatter and interaction of the crowd with the performers gives the recording a small club and intimate feel.
The performance beings with “A Few Words by Cannonball,” which consists of a few jokes and Cannonball asking for the lights to be dimmed for better atmosphere. From there on out, the band’s performance is simply magical. The lively “….And This Here” is carried by a marvelous rhythm section spearheaded by Sam Jones, whose bass walks with the best of them. The clarity and balance of the rhythm section throughout the track are enhanced by the high-resolution SACD. If I had to be picky, there are times throughout In San Francisco where the recording is a bit “hot,” particularly the bass drum and some horn blasts, so listening at higher volumes is definitely less enjoyable than at more modest levels.
Sam Jones sets off “Spontaneous Combustion” with a bluesy and spirited bass groove. The call and response horns by the Adderley Brothers makes you smile. The recording quality of Cannonball’s sax and Nat Adderley’s cornet is acceptable by today’s standard and simply amazing for 1959. No, you can’t hear every breath in the horns like you should on a more modern recording, but this performance was laid down in 1959 and to expect such subtleties would be unreasonable.
Oscar Pettiford’s up-tempo “Bohemia After Dark” is one of my favorite tracks on In San Francisco. Not to overlook the Adderley brothers’ amazingly tight horn duets, Jones and Hayes are at their absolute best here. Hayes’ endless energy on the rider cymbal and snare drum combined with Jones’ walking bass melodies drive a groove that makes it difficult to not tap your foot and get drawn into the music. The clarity, punch and speed of Hayes’ drums throughout this track and the entire recording are impressive and have no doubt been improved by the SACD format.
I really enjoyed The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco at The Live Jazz Workshop. One could not ask for a more inspired performance or quality of recording from 1959, and Fantasy Jazz’s remastered Hybrid Stereo SACD brings it to life all that much better.