17 JUN 11 CHRIS SLAWECKI
It seems curious that, in a genre known for all-star recordings, Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans' Know What I Mean? has not received more acclaim. Just released into Concord's Original Jazz Classics Remasters series with several bonus tracks, it teams two of modern jazz's most accomplished composers and instrumentalists for a session recorded in March 1961, while both were contracted to Riverside Records.
They're joined by bassist Percy Heath and drummer Connie Kay, the rhythm section from the Modern Jazz Quartet whose impeccable rhythm support proves a match for the leaders' improvisational dexterity.
They first call out one of Evans' most famous tunes -- "Waltz for Debby," a melody that dances when woven through the air by the pianist's expert hands. Two carefree versions of the Gershwins' "Who Cares?" leap and bound in the dynamic, propelling sound you expect from Adderley, who uses his alto like both a hammer and scalpel. Written to honor Adderley, Evans' title tune opens up plentiful avenues for exploration and reflection to sound just like himself, but then introduces a Latin bounce that brightens the mood and illuminates highlights of Cannonball's sharp alto.
A few years earlier, Evans played on Adderley's Riverside debut, Portrait Of Cannonball (1958); Adderley returned the favor with a flattering quotation for the pianist's hallmark Everybody Digs Bill Evans released that same year (and now part of the Keepnews Collection). Adderley and Evans played together in Miles Davis' employ, too.