When surveying the vast catalog of work left for us by alto star and entertainer Cannonball Adderley, for sheer diversity of personnel, approaches, and excellence in writing, the Riverside period of the late '50s and early '60s remains a watermark in the distinguished career of this jazz legend. For just two examples, contrast the understated beauty of Know What I Mean
recorded with Bill Evans to the brassy large ensemble blow-out of African Waltz
Times do change however, and with the demise of Riverside in 1963, Adderley jumped ship to Capitol Records. He brought with him the tapes from seven Riverside sessions (for the record they are Cannonball Takes Charge, Them Dirty Blues, The Poll-Winners, Live at the Lighthouse, Jazz Workshop Revisited, Cannonball's Bossa Nova, and Cannonball in Europe ) that he retained ownership of and which were quickly dumped into the vaults never to be heard from again until producer Orrin Keepnews got a hold of them and engaged in a limited release of the sides via his Landmark imprimatur. With the Landmark reissues gone since the late '80s, Capitol has decided to again revisit these classics and has kicked off the series with the consequential album at hand.
Alluding to recent magazine poll victories for Ray Brown, Wes Montgomery, and Adderley, The Poll-Winners was cut in 1960 on the west coast and sports a group that is rounded out by pianist/vibraphonist Victor Feldman and drummer Louis Hayes. With a telepathic sense of linkage, these five men wax poetic on an excellent selection of cuts, with Feldman's "The Chant" and "Azule Serape" proving to be two meaty originals that would find their way into the band book of the Adderley Brothers and remain there for some time. While not quite as memorable as a subsequent turn by the Brothers and Nancy Wilson, "Never Will I Marry" is the longest performance here and its a real winner.
Other highpoints include a couple of workouts for Feldman's vibes and Montgomery's signature octaves used tastefully and sparingly. Noted sound engineer Wally Heider is also to be lauded for the great ambiance he gets from the large hall used for the first three numbers and from his own studio for the concluding pieces.
Cannonball fans everywhere will surely be pleased by the appearance of this hard to find item. Now we wait for the subsequent arrival of the other six "lost" Riverside sessions. Capitol, bring 'em on!