Friday, 30 April 2010


Recently I was talking to Mr Brown and bemoaning the fact that I did not own a copy of the classic album "Somethin' Else" by Cannonball Adderley. Now that's not to say I haven't heard this.. I have many, many, many times. It's just that for years I had a tape of this and then (ashamed to say) I had an "evaluation" copy on CD (which I have since got rid of).
Anyway, like a lot of classics that I always mean to get around to replacing or acquiring there's always something newer in the shop when I have the spare cash to get it.
But on Tuesday in Fopp I noticed they had one of these "out-of-copyright-cheapo-reproduction" efforts of Cannonball Adderley's stuff. Not a crappy compilation either but two straight reproduction albums. "Somethin' Else" and "Cannonball's Sharpshooters" two albums on two CDs for £3. I really had no excuse not to...
And glad I did. Two quintet sessions that were recorded within four days or so of each other in 1958. But while "Somethin'.." was released for Blue Note, "Sharpshooters" was originally released by Mercury.
It's easy to see how "Somethin'" became the real classic that it is. It was recorded by an all-star Blue Note line up that included Art Blakey on Drums, Hank Jones on piano and Miles Davis on trumpet (on what I think was his last appearance as  a "side man" for anyone). The tunes on this are all slow moving or mid tempo ballads and the opening version of "Autumn Leaves" is probably the definitive version.
"Sharpshooters" on the other hand is a tad "rawer" and hard blowing. Cannonball's brother Nat takes trumpet credits on this one (like a lot of Cannonballs albums) and, while I really like Mile's muted sound on "Somethin'", I think I prefer this - it's just a bit punchier and cutting.
While one album is a great one to listen to for relaxing the accompanying one is more vibrant and uplifting. The sound quality is excellent as well. I know that the distributors are unlikely to have produced these from master tapes, as such, but they at least sound like copies from good quality sources.

However, given that both were packaged together for such a low price what is there to complain about?

Well... the bloody packaging. I don't know if the original artwork is still copyrighted and therefore couldn't be used. But I love the simplicity of the black sleeve with the muted green and blue font for basic details on the original "Somethin' Else" and the painted target on a wooden fence of Sharpshooters while tacky, by today's standards, still suggests the 50's. This double CD is packaged in a cheap and nasty way with a photo of Cannonball - but there isn't even any evidence that it's a photo shoot from the recording session (indeed one of the photos in the sleeve notes shows two sax players - yet on both quintet recordings Cannonball is the only sax player). It's like some cheapo Miles Davis CDs I've seen that are full of badly copied tracks from his days, as a very young man, with Charlie Parker or John Coltrane, but are accompanied by a sleeve picture of him in his "mad as a brush" electro-fusion" days! Bad marketing and lazy research...
Still. That's really just nit-picking. Excellent buy.... long overdue.

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