An All-Star Celebration of Cannonball Adderley
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2008, Volume 15, #3
Written by John Metzger
Thu March 20, 2008, 06:30 AM CDT
Non-jazz fans likely are more familiar with the sounds that Tom Scott has coaxed from his saxophone over the years than they are with his name. A venerable and reliable session man, Scott has appeared on an abnormally broad swath of albums by artists who have included just about everyone, from George Harrison to Barbra Streisand and from Frank Sinatra to Steely Dan. Simultaneously, Scott put together a commercially viable solo career, though as one might expect, his output tended to gravitate toward the pop-oriented side of jazz’s spectrum.
On Cannon Reloaded: An All-Star Celebration of Cannonball Adderley, his latest project, Scott — with the help of a cast that included bass player Marcus Miller, keyboard players George Duke and Larry Goldings, drummer Steve Gadd, and guest vocalist Nancy Wilson — took a stab at reinterpreting 10 cuts from the late, great Cannonball Adderley’s extensive canon. The idea itself isn’t necessarily a bad one either. As Scott lovingly states in his liner notes for the set, it wasn’t unusual for Adderley to quote from pop tunes within his solos. Adderley, too, was instrumental in creating the crossover style of soul-jazz. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Adderley paved the way for Scott’s forays during the 1970s.
It is, however, almost sadly ironic how Scott’s translation of Adderley’s material on Cannon Reloaded: An All-Star Celebration of Cannonball Adderley frequently falls so terribly flat. Without question, there are a few moments, tucked here and there throughout the set, when the collective strikes just the right balance between the slick production and the material’s cool, laid-back grooves. At times, Scott and trumpeter Terence Blanchard attack the material with gusto, and Duke, almost without fail, injects some fiery improvisation into the proceedings. Nevertheless, the rhythmic propulsion is too tight for its own good, and boxed into a corner, the ensemble frequently struggles to find room to maneuver. Consequently, it never truly gets off the ground.
The most frustrating tracks on Cannon Reloaded: An All-Star Celebration of Cannonball Adderley are those that feature Wilson. Both Save Your Love for Me and The Masquerade Is Over combine straight-ahead, R&B-inflected vocals with shimmering waves of electric piano, and they sound so stuck in time that they utterly derail what little momentum Scott and his entourage are able to obtain. Simply regurgitating Adderley’s arrangements wouldn’t have been a wise approach either, and to his credit, Scott, at least, made an attempt to update the material, drawing a correlation between past and present. All that he manages to accomplish, however, is to highlight the deficiencies that always have been present in contemporary jazz.
Cannon Reloaded: An All-Star Celebration of Cannonball Adderley
is available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box