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Crate Digger’s Gold – Cannonball Adderley – The Black Messiah

August 26, 2014

Cannonball

A few weeks ago I was at the RockNRoll Music Sale in Maple Grove MN when I stumbled upon this release for just $1.  As I examined it, proprietor Jeff warned me that this was a great album, but there was some non-visable damage and the double LP was priced accordingly.  I figured for a buck if just one of the four sides was playable it would be worth it.

The album is damaged with a heavy thump on the first minute of each side (but it did not skip), but who cares this is the definition of Crate Digger’s Gold:

  • An unknown album to me
  • Cover art suggested this was likely to be some funky shit
  • Credits that are a who’s who of fusion greats  from the early 70s (recorded live at a club date in 1970)
  • Priced so low you can’t miss
  • And when you play it the first time your jaw drops as you realize this is jazz rock fusion that rivals what Miles Davis was doing around this time

The Cannonball Adderley Quintet (Cannonball on alto and soprano sax, brother Nat on cornet, Roy McCurdy on drums, Walter Booker on bass and George Duke on electric piano) is augmented by percussion great Airto Moreiara on all the cuts.  The Wrecking Crew’s Mike Deasy plays guitar on most cuts.  Ernie Watts plays sax and flute on a few cuts. Buck Clayton plays African drums here and there and Alvin Battiste plays some clarinet.  Cannonball announces from the stage that all these players are the Cannonball Adderley Quintet and  “I don’t give a damn how you count.”  Turns out the Quintet is a concept and not a literal name.  Oh and the great David Axelrod produces.

This a bit more accessible that Miles’ Bitches Brew, but it has its pretty far out moments too.  Deasy gives the proceedings a bit of a Grateful Dead feel at times.  My favorite cut is “Dr. Honouris Causa” (sp) by the Quintet’s old piano play Joe Zawinul.  The cut predates the Weather Report version by a couple of years and is allegedly a salute to Herbie Hancock for being awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Grinnell College (Hancock had earned an undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and music at Grinnell).

This must have been some show: there is some pretty straightforward blues rock, Miles era fusion, some Brazilian folk, jazz, some vocals, but mostly this is not category music – it is good music. Although Zawinul is not present, but you can tell Weather Report was more influenced by Cannonball than Miles – a revelation to me.

It looks like Real Gone Music has recently reissued this on a remastered 2 CD set if can’t find it in the crates.  Online vinyl copies are about $20.  It is treasures like this that keep me in the game.

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