The complete title of this splendid album by alto saxophonist Jim Snidero
and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt
's New York-based quintet is Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley.
In other words, honoring the life and music of one of the jazz world's most illustrious altos, a consummate artist (and showman) who ranks alongside Bird, Stitt, Pepper, Konitz, Desmond, Woods, McLean and Nelson as undisputed alto giants and pacesetters of the bop and post-bop eras.
As there was only one Cannonball Adderley it would be fruitless to try and mimic his exact sound and style; Snidero, to his credit, doesn't do that, even though he veers close at timeswhich is a good thing. It is, after all, Cannonball's territory he is traversing, and the maestro's awesome shadow is ever-present. Snidero is also savvy enough to understand that no tribute to Adderley would be worthy of the name without the inclusion of Cannon's right arm, alter ego and younger brother, Nat, whose sharp and woefully underrated cornet was an essential part of almost every album Cannonball ever recorded. Enter Pelt, who employs his melodious trumpet to help fill the void.
Pelt's shuffling "Party Time" is a delightful way to raise the curtain, evoking the earthy flavor and spirit of Cannonball's classic quintets of the '60s and early '70s. Everyone shines again on bassist Sam Jones
' buoyant "Del Sasser," a team effort made even more enticing by the fact that "Del Sasser" is among the finest jazz standards ever written. Cannonball composed the lyrical "Wabash" (featuring Pelt on muted trumpet along with Billy Drummond
's expressive snares and tom toms) and boppish "Sack 'O Woe," brother Nat the well-known and oft-played finale, "Work Song" (whose emphatic intro by Drummond leads to the familiar alto / trumpet counterpoint). Rounding out the engaging program are Walter Booker
's Latin-inflected "Saudade," Snidero's frolicsome "Ball's 90th" and the standard "Stars Fell on Alabama" (a lustrous showcase for Snidero's quasi-Cannonball alto).
Before closing, it would be imprudent not to point out that the group's rhythm section (Drummond, bassist Nat Reeves
, pianist David Hazeltine
) is rock-solid throughout, with Hazeltine soloing effectively on every number and comping with assurance. In sum, a colorful celebration that salutes the eminence and artistry of its honoree and retraces his brilliance without mimicry. The opinion here is that Cannonball (and Nat) would have been greatly pleased.