The premise for the formation of this group is interesting. Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane only appeared once together on LP outside their work with Miles, on the 1959 The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago, a side so compelling that bassist Luther Hughes decided a modern continuation of the work was in order. That was 2002. He gathered a few friends, and the CCP gig was born, to quite enthusiastic reception. Eight years later now, the band's fourth CD Things are Getting Better has issued, showing why the germ seed had longevity, a revelry in sound one can't help but side with Hughes on: classic, deep, and the perfect platform to herald what had riveted ears back in the day, just before a new era birthed and changed everything.
I've always been partial to Cannonball's brother Nat, and thus was happy to see his Jive Samba as the first selection, a cool, breezy, loose bit of deep night NYC hipness. As the disc wends its changes, the band is so damn together that you'll swear it's a septet, yet only five cats hold the stage amid sparkling charts and an organic cybernetic togetherness. The feeling throughout the CD is of a warm cellar nightclub populated by listeners serious about their jazz but affable and dreamy, the last gasp of the beats giving way to approaching rockers, a kind of solidarity vibe keeping the old guard poised and unflappable.
Tenor saxist Glenn Cashman's "McCoy", a trib to Coltrane's famous pianist McCoy Tyner, injects some stellar blowing while alto saxist Bruce Babad's balladic Primrose Star grows slinky and feline, hitting West Coast Cool latitudes and some of Gerry Mulligan's more laid back tendencies. Then pianist Ed Czach takes over on Romburg & Hammerstein's Softly as in a Morning Sunrise, a notably more energetic version than Siggy & Oscar had in mind and an 8+ minute showcase for all involved. One cut, Sunset at Hermosa, is dedicated to the world-famous jazz dive, the Lighthouse Cafe, just down the road from me here in Manhattan Beach, and, when everything comes down to cases, Things are Getting Better sounds like a date from that hoary venue, one that could very well have featured the Crusaders old work alongside the CCP. That would be a concert to see.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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