CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Somethin’ Else (Blue Note)
“Somethin’ Else” appears to have been shrouded in something approaching controversy, as some commentators suggest that it’s a Cannonball Adderley album in name only, so billed because contractual reasons prevented Miles Davis, then freshly signed to Columbia, recording an album for Blue Note. Certainly the album provides a wealth of evidence to support this idea, with Miles providing advice on arrangements and repertoire and often leading off the tunes, with Adderley, himself Miles’ employee at the time, frequently relegated to second-line support. It’s Miles’ voice you hear asking producer Alfred Lion if the performance of “One For Daddy-O” was satisfactory, and it’s Miles who provides the title composition. Perhaps most significantly, it’s Miles’ plaintive, piercing trumpet that provides the session’s signature sound. (As an aside, the sleevenote on “Steamin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet” makes reference to “a record released on another company on which Miles, for contractual reasons, was nominally a sideman. But it is more than obvious, from the first note to the last, that it is a Miles record”.)
Musically, well, “Somethin’ Else” is the sound of a disparate set of musicians, sourced from several different streams of contemporary jazz, meshing fluidly as a unit. They nail the wistfulness demanded of “Autumn Leaves”, swing fiercely on the title track and embellish “Love For Sale” with exotic Latin flourishes. If the end result isn’t quite as towering as reputation suggests – a staggeringly competent set, certainly, but one that doesn’t reach any further than that – it’s still an enjoyable record that demands and repays repeated listens, especially for those, like myself, who might feel a bit daunted by its substantial reliance on jazz standards.
This Japanese 180 gram reissue, allegedly sourced from something other than the original analogue tapes, sounds a wee bit harsh and forthright, a frequent characteristic of that country’s vinyl, but which might equally be the fault of the recording. It’s packaged in a lovingly rendered thick cardboard sleeve, but the tight-fitting obi makes levering the latter out of the way to read the sleevenotes an act akin to neurosurgery.