The first three jazz tracks that an 11 year-old me ever heard, or at least paid attention to, are on this CD: ‘Another Kind of Soul’, ‘Porky’, and ‘Edie McClin’. They still blow me away, especially the harmonically dark theme of ‘Another Kind of Soul’, which is what originally drew me in, Cannonball’s ecstatic solo on ‘Porky’, and the bit in ‘Edie McClin’ where he wails on a particularly memorable high Gb (Eb on alto); Wynton Kelly’s piano creates much of the special ambience throughout. There are plenty of other highlights on this double-CD, which charts the beginning of Cannonball’s career, when he was playing quite conventional but superior melodic modern jazz.
Coast to Coast
Most of Cannonball’s best recordings were live in clubs, rather than in studios. On these live sessions from 1962, he is joined by tenor saxophonist Yusef Lateef, who plays a combination of heavy-toned fluent bop reminiscent of Dexter Gordon, and a variety of honking, avant-garde distortions. Alongside their usual bebop and soul grooves, the band play some very memorable, advanced arrangements, with the highlights being ‘Dizzy’s Business’ and the amazing ‘Planet Earth’. Cannonball burns throughout, as does his brother Nat on cornet.
Sticks and Soul
This old Affinity LP is the perfect example of soul jazz played in front of a very enthusiastic audience. The atmosphere is there every time you put the needle on the vinyl, no matter how many times you’ve done it before; the widely available Mercy, Mercy, Mercy CD contains much of the same stuff.
Accent on Africa
You could readily dance to this, if you were so inclined. The tunes are extremely catchy, the African beats and singing are uplifting, brother Nat on cornet is exuberant throughout, and Cannonball’s mercurial bitter-sweet lines are truly something to behold. This is high quality jazz with popular appeal which should be much more widely acclaimed than it is.
The sound quality isn’t great on this Joker label LP recorded live in Italy in 1969, but it is the perfect example of the fully developed, later Cannonball style. The band sound is progressive and intense, and Cannonball is explorative and experimental throughout; listen to ‘Scavenger’, and you are hearing one of the most original, advanced and intense soloists jazz ever knew.