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Cannonball Adderley & Milt Jackson: Things Are Getting Better

C. Michael Bailey By

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Cannonball Adderley & Milt Jackson

Things Are Getting Better

OJC

1959/2013

Alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's 1959 Things Are Getting Better joins guitarist Wes Montgomery's So Much Guitar!, trumpeter Chet Baker's Chet Baker Plays The Best Of Lerner & Loewe (OJC/Riverside, 1959/2013) and Gerry Mulligan's Mulligan Meets Monk (OJC/Riverside, 1957/2013) in re-issue celebrating the 60th anniversary of Riverside Records.

Adderley was in much demand in the late 1950s, being part of Miles Davis' great sextet that would record Milestones (Columbia, 1958), 1958 Miles (Columbia, 1958) and Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959). In this same period, Adderley also recorded several times as a leader, including the desert-island Somethin' Else (Blue Note, 1958) with Davis making a rare sideman appearance and the present Things Are Getting Better, recorded with vibraphonist Milt Jackson. These recordings are similar in that while Adderley gets leadership billing, side personnel take on a near equal role in the recordings.

It is a natural attraction that brought Adderley and Jackson together. Both men were accomplished ballads and blues players who could tear up a bebop tune if necessary. Like Somethin' Else, Things Are Getting Better lacks weak material. The disc includes alternate takes of Buddy Johnson's "Serves Me Right" and the Lawlor/Blake romp "The Sidewalks of New York," both songs worthy of reprise. The disc highlights are the original title track where Adderley and Jackson flex their respective blues chops. "Groovin' High" is executed with such precision (and at a slower tempo than the 1945 original) that it could exist as a study of bebop. Jackson is steeped in this music and Adderley demonstrates the dual influences of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane on this playing at the time.

Pianist Wynton Kelly is superb throughout, reminding us of his often overlooked contributions to jazz, largely as a sideman. The rhythm section was rounded out by bassist Percy Heath and drummer Art Blakey. Line-ups like this are the giants upon whose shoulders all after stand on.


Tracks: Blues Oriental; Things Are Getting Better; Serves Me Right (take 5); Groovin' High; The Sidewalks of New York (take 5); Sounds for Sid; Just One of Those Things; Serves Me Right (take 4); The Sidewalks of New York (take 4).

Personnel: Cannonball Adderley: alto sax; Milt Jackson: vibes; Wynton Kelly: piano; Percy Heath: bass; Art Blakey; drums.

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