Branching Out: NAT ADDERLEY Quintet
Nat Adderley (cnt) Johnny Griffin (ts) “The Three Sounds” (Gene Harris (p) Andy Simpkins (b) Bill Dowdy (drs)) omit (ts) on Side 1, #3; and Side 2, #1)
New York; September, 1958
Sister Caroline (5:42) (Nat Adderley)
Well, You Needn’t (8:16) (Thelonious Monk)
Don’t Get Around Much Any More (4:29) (Russell- Ellington)
I’ve Got Plenty of Nothin’ (4:56) (George and Ira Gershwin)
Branching Out (6:44) (Nat Adderley)
I Never Knew (4:36) (Pitts – Egan – Marsh)
Warm Blue Stream (4:21) (Sara Cassey)
Blues, as everyone should know, is not merely a word; it is a state of being. I can think of few better examples of the validity of this basic jazz truth than this recording. Of the seven selections included here, only the number that gives the album its title is (in the strict, stylistic, 12-bar sense of the word) a blues. But the overall approach, mood and impact of the LP as a whole makes it inevitable that this be thought of as a blues album – or, if you prefer, an album full of the spirit of the blues.
In my personal dictionary, this is a high compliment. For like a great many other people, I happen to feel that this is where jazz comes from and where, in the last anlaysis, it belongs: this is the bed-rock, the ‘bottom’; this is home. (Actually, an album such as this makes me wish that those who write about jazz were not so quick to overwork certain catchy words and phrases until all the juice has been squeezed out of them. Words like “soul” and “funky” and “down home” fit this music perfectly, but by now you can only mention such words by sort of backing into them apologetically, as I have just done.)
In a period when many jazzmen seem unable to establish a really distinctive musical identity, NAT ADDERLEY is notably a man with his own sound and ideas. To some extent this may be attributable to the fact that he plays the lightly sharper-pitched cornet, rather than trumpet; to a degree also, there is the blues feeling we have been emphasizing. But above all this sense of personal identity is to be heard rather than described: it is immediately apparent in Nat’s deep-down tune, Sister Caroline; in the affectionate wit of his version of Thelonious Monk’s Well, You Needn’t; in the rocking treatment of standards like Don’t Get Around Much Any More and I’ve Got Plenty of Nothin’; in the richly moving statement of a ballad by the talented young writer, Sara Cassey, Warm Blue Stream.
There is nothing accidental about the juxtaposition of personnel here, for Nat’s choice of associates was based on specific knowledge that these men would naturally fit into the groove he had in mind. Adderley, Johnny Griffin, and the remarkable, swinging young trio calling themselves The Three Sounds all share an ability to combine a thoroughly modern conception with an apparently instinctive feeling for some really earthy jazz roots. Nat has long been among the admirers of Griffin, the skilled and exciting Chicago-born tenorman who has Thelonious Monk and Art Blakey. The Sounds, who are also midwesterners, had at the time of this recording been working together for about a year, largely in the Washington, D. C., area. They had serves as a rhythm section for Adderley on engagements in that city, so that he was well aware of how extremely well they function together and how smoothly hey blend with him.
Branching Out is a very relevant album title in several respects. The name of a blues, it also aptly suggests an association with “roots.” Furthermore, it ties in with neat symbolism with the use of the fabulous early-American chair in which Nat is relaxing in the cover photograph. Still further, it points to the fact that this, Nat’s first album as a leader on Riverside, is also the first LP he has produced without the collaboration of his gifted brother, alto star Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. The brothers, as it happens, are a very close-knit pair, both personally and musically. They have for the most part worked together, both in person and on records. But when both joined this label it was their idea as well as ours that Nat should have plenty of occasions to ‘branch out,’ to operate with the focus of attention fully on his own musical thoughts and brilliant horn work. This album and Julian’s first Riverside effort (Portrait of Cannonball) indicate how effectively each brother can stand alone; future LPs will demonstrate the different thing that the family unit can accomplish together.
Nat Adderley was born in Tampa, Florida, in November, 1931. He began playing baritone horn in school, then moved on to trumpet and cornet. He played the latter only in the school concert band at first; it was only when his trumpet was stolen that he began, of necessity, to use cornet on local jazz jobs. Thus there is nothing deep or devious about his being a cornetist: he simply found that he felt more comfortable with the shorter horn and stayed with it. Actually there is little physical difference between the present-day cornet – which is appreciably longer than the squat early models – and trumpet. It does take a bit less air in the lungs to handle it; Nat finds that this enables him to get around more easily on cornet. (He notes also that this makes it rather frustrating for most trumpet players who pick up a cornet: they’re unable to avoid ‘over-blowing’ and can’t control the horn.)
Nat’s principal early jazz instruction came from his brother (trumpet was Cannonball’s first instrument), but today he expresses almost equal liking for and influence by four men; Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham and Clark Terry – a diversity that underlines the fact that in style and sound Nat is really very much his own man. The Adderley brothers usually worked together, building a strong local reputation, until Nat left Florida in 1854 to join Lionel Hampton. He stayed with that band for about a year, moving on to New York at exactly the time that Cannonball came up from Florida. The brothers remained together again until their quintet disbanded at the end of ’57, with Cannonball then moving into a featured spot with Miles Davis and Nat spending most of ’58 with J. J. Johnson’s group.
Nat and Johnny Griffin can be heard together on –
Blues for Dracula: PHILLY JOE JONES Sextet (RLP 12-282)
Griffin has been featured on several other Riverside LPs, and leads his own groups on –
JOHNNY GRIFFIN Sextet; with Pepper Adams, Donald Byrd (RLP 12-264)
Way Out: JOHNNY GRIFFIN Quartet; with Kenny Drew (RLP 12-274)
Other outstanding Riverside jazz includes –
Mulligan Meets Monk: THELONIOUS MONK and GERRY MULLIGAN (RLP 12-247)
Thelonious in Action: THELONIOUS MONK Quartet at the Five Spot (RLP 12-262)
Brilliant Corners: THELONIOUS MONK, with Sonny Rollins, Max Roach (RLP 12-226)
Deeds, Not Words: MAX ROACH Quintet (RLP 12-280)
Portrait of Cannonball Adderley: JULIAN ADDERLEY Quintet (RLP 12-269)
CHET BAKER in New York with Johnny Griffin (RLP 12-281)
Freedom Suite: SONNY ROLLINS (RLP 12-258)
John Benson Brooks’ ALABAMACONCERTO: featuring Cannonball Adderley (RLP 12-276)
It’s Magic: ABBEY LINCOLN, with Kenny Dorham, Benny Golson (RLP 12-277)
Big Six: BLUE MITCHELL, with Johnny Griffin, Curtis Fuller (RLP 12-273)
In Orbit: CLARK TERRY Quartet; featuring Thelonious Monk (RLP 12-271)
This Is the Moment: KENNY DORHAM Sings and Plays (RLP 12-275)
WYNTON KELLY, with Kenny Burrell (RLP 12-254)
The Modern Touch: BENNY GOLSON Sextet; with J. J. Johnson, Kenny Dorham, Max Roach (RLP 12-256)
Look Out for EVANS BRADSHAW! (RLP 12-263)
A HIGH FIDELITY Recording – Riverside-Reeves SPECTROSONIC High Fidelity Engineering
(Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve.)
Produced, and notes written by, ORRIN KEEPNEWS.
Cover photograph: MEL SOKOLSKY; cover designed by PAUL BACON.
Engineer: JACK HIGGINS (Reeves Sound Studios).
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
553 West 51st Street New York 19, N.Y.