Track Selection: “Straight Life” (Julian Adderley)
Blue Mitchell (tp) Cannonball Adderley (as) Bill Evans (p) Sam Jones (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) Reeves Sound Studios, NYC, July 1, 1958
High on his success with the Miles Davis Sextet, Adderley’s first album for Riverside, in 1958, is a strong outing. The session is graced by Bill Evans on piano, with Blue Mitchell on trumpet and Sam Jones and Philly Joe holding down the rhythm section, Adderley’s alto is strong and vibrant, with plenty of energy pushing everything along. The sample “Straight Life” is a lovely ballad, with Adderley’s poignant phrasing and elegant flourishes reminiscent of the superlative Blue Note “Something Else” from around the same year.
Not sure how I would feel being labelled “Cannonball”. The waistline isn’t as trim as it was forty years ago, but Adderley was only around thirty years old at this time. He could do with shedding a few pounds, but “Cannonball”? Still, the recording is credited to “Julian Adderley” which definitely has a more sophisticated ring.
Vinyl: Riverside RLP 12-269 UK pressing
Riverside recordings – of which this is a UK press – enjoy wide dynamic range and a fresh bright presentation which never fails to please in the audiophile department. The US Riverside pressing have the edge but nothing worth fighting over – they all sound great. It claims to enjoy “Spectrosonic Engineering” – the marketing department’s attempt to baffle record buyers and explain the concept of wide dynamic range in plain gobbledygook.
Another cover to add to the “Smokin’ Musicians” gallery. For a pleasant change the cover shows little sign of its true age, and the absence of spindle marks on the label suggests it spent most of its fifty year life unplayed in someone’s collection. Which is to my benefit, as it is a better session than I expected, and the price didn’t really reflect the quality within. Sometimes not being a “collectible” has its advantages.