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Adderley Kicks Brass

18 MAY 11 CHRIS SLAWECKI

For the 1959 sextet sessions that turned into his Much Brass album, Nat Adderley put together an unusual front line: Tuba (courtesy of Laymon Jackson) on the bottom, trombone (Slide Hampton) in the middle, and his own impeccable cornet on top. It seems a shame that Adderley didn't include "blue" in its eventual title because while this album does offer much brass, what that brass plays is almost all blues.

The opening "Blue Concept" explains the idea. Adderley's cornet solo somehow breathes the best of Clark Terry and Freddie Hubbard into his own, singular breath (while drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath plays so far behind this walking blues backbeat that he almost misses it). "Israel" and "Moving" rock the blues, thanks to pianist Wynton Kelly, from the rhythm section on up.

Adderley puts trombone and tuba aside to cast the traditional "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" as a reverent, profound gospel blues quartet -- a fine vehicle for his cornet to sound sad but resolute, strong but worn and unsure, as it throbs and moans and weeps the blues.

Throughout his career, Adderley worked with other trombone players, including J.J. Johnson on Chain Reaction: Yokohama Concert, Vol. 2 (Pablo, 1995), and in jazz supergroups with Victor Feldman, Johnny Griffin and Ron Carter (on A Little New York Midtown Music, OJC, '99) and other all-stars. He's most likely best known for the title track to his riverside album Work Song, now available in the Keepnews Collection and as a deluxe Japanese import.