Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Cannonball Adderley-Somethin' Else (1958)
Artist: Cannonball Adderley
Album: Somethin' Else
Label: Blue Note
Cannonball Adderley's 1958 record Somethin' Else features Miles Davis on trumpet and Art Blakey on drums. The quintet is rounded out by Hank Jones on piano and Sam Jones (relation?) on bass. It's a bit perplexing to me how to approach jazz reviews. There are many jazz albums I can tell a story about and have strong feelings of. A moment or song or performance which often sticks out to me. However, there are likely just as many albums that I've listened to two or three times, and can tell you nothing about. Why is Somethin' Else a Blue Note classic? I really can't say. The best I can do is talk a little about why I like it. Sorry, but a lot of the jazz reviews will be like this.
One of the online acquaintances I used to talk to while getting into jazz (about a decade ago) one time made a disparaging remark to me about Blue Note albums in general, calling them just a "blowing session." Sure enough, there is far less of a personal identity among Freddie Hubbard and Sonny Clark's Blue Note output. As fantastic as it is, I'd be lying if I said one record blew others out of the way. I'd be lying further still if I said those records seemed as well-thought out and carefully orhcestrated as Mingus Ah Um or Kind Of Blue. That's not why I like them, though. The sound of a trio, quartet, quintet or what have you, just going to town on a tune, listening to the thunder of the drums or the way the keys dance around the tune is great. As I get dangerously close to becoming somewhat concerned about audiophile-quality recordings, the sound of a tenor sax or crash of a drum that feels like it's in the room resonates with me.
Somethin' Else is a respected classic, and certainly Adderley's earliest classic. What it really reminded me of, tonight, was the Miles Davis album from a year earlier, Round About Midnight. Davis features strongly in the opening tune, "Autumn Leaves," and his playing is quiet and informs the rest of the record. I'm not sure if the term "blowin' session" applies to all "generic" Blue Note dates, but it's always made me think of something like Horace Silver records, which swing and move quickly. This album, on the other hand, is slow and peaceful. "Autumn Leaves", and especially "Love For Sale" and "Sometin' Else" start slow, and before you know it, build into a larger, more forceful sound. Davis' influence is certainly on this record, and his composition fingerprints are littered throughout.
Bonus track "Alison's Uncle" is a much more standard hard bop tune. The album proper, however, is lush, peaceful, and moving. Art Blakey may be the true standout as well. For someone so renowned for his powerful drumming, he lends an extremely light touch to most of the album, never overplaying. A beautiful record, and that's all I have to say.