Should any doubt for a moment why Miles chose Julian "Cannonball" Adderly (alto sax) for his ensembles, this will put the inquiry to rest. Sporting a dynamite band with brother Nat (cornet), Yusef Lateef (tenor sax, flute, oboe), Joe Zawinul (piano), Sam Jones (bass), and Louis Hayes (drums), Adderly commences the set in high fashion with "Jessica's Day" a snappy boppish tune trotting out everyone's chops before letting down into the balladic Angel Eyes, given over to Lateef and Zawinul, wherein Joe exhibits the Romantic side that forever dwelled in his work, whether trad or fusion.
The two sets—one from Switzerland, one from Germany—total 99 minutes in 11 songs, so there's plenty of room for improv and solos. Unfortunately, Nat isn't wielding that wickedly cool clarinet at any point, but he blends in with Cannonball and Lateef beautifully on cornet. When soloing, his tone's a mid-point between Cannonball and Maynard Ferguson. The ensemble in total achieves an extremely large sound for just six cats and the rhythms are infectious as hell. Unlike some in the Naxos series, Adderley, though capable in any mode, favored a more urbane approach, rarely hiking into the stratosphere in terms of the groundbreaking. His genius lay in killer arranging and interpretation, above and beyond his exhaustless energy. Big band connoissieurs gravitated to him much more than to, say, Sonny Rollins or Coltrane, who were not as easily understood.
As with the rest of this series, the sound is pristine, as up-to-the-moment as a contemporary broadcast. This is crucial in cuts like Bohemia After Dark and its accelerations into overdrive. The clarity is as precise as a blueprint at almost all levels, though Jones remains a tad undermiked, probably purposely. In this song, the three frontmen—the Adderleys and Lateef—trade off sections of the melody and solos, vying to top one another in an overachieving display of superlatives; thus, even though the band may not be as radical as some, it took a backseat to no one.
Links to the reviews of the other DVDs in this set:
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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