top of page

Things Are Getting Better : CANNONBALL ADDERLEY


RLP-117 118 A
RLP-117 118 front
RLP-117 118 back.jpg
RLP-117 118 A.jpg
RLP-117 118 B.jpg

Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley (as) Milt Jackson (vib) Wynton Kelly (p) Percy Heath (b) Art Blakey (drs)

New York; October 28, 1958


1. Blues Oriental (4:55) (Milt Jackson)

2. Things Are Getting Better (7:07) (Julian Adderley)

3. Serves Me Right (4:42) (Budd Johnson)

4. Groovin' High (5:16) (Dizzy Gillespie)


1. The Sidewalks of New York (6:57) (Lawlor – Blake/ arr. Julian Adderley)

2. Sounds for Sid (6:20) (Julian Adderley)

3. Just One of Those Things (6:41) (Cole Porter)

   The main function of this album, clearly enough, is to bring together for the first time two of the most notable of today’s jazz artists, with MILT JACKSON heading a most distinguished supporting cast working here under the leadership of CANNONBALL ADDERLEY.

   The “all-star” session seems always to be in fashion, regardless of the hard fact that friction (or even chaos) rather than special inspiration is apt to be a fairly likely result of indiscriminately throwing big jazz names into the same recording studio. There is, however, nothing necessarily fatal about “star” recording, if only someone remembers to pay attention to basic rules like making sure the artists involved happen to be really musically (and personally) compatible. Because this rule has been obeyed here, the juxtaposition of Cannonball, Milt and this rhythm section was a fully valid one, full of intriguing possibilities that, we think, turned into actualities in this recording.

   Both Adderley and Jackson are striking individualists. Cannonball is regarded as primarily a formidable improvisor (although some of his recent work, as on Riverside’s Alabama Concerto” LP, has given sharp indication that there is a great deal more to the man than just that). Bags, although he first brought his vibraharp onto the scene in the hot-and-heavy bop days of the late 1940s, is generally thought of in terms of the context in which he has worked steadily since 1953: as a key member of the Modern Jazz Quartet. You might think of these two, in the course of their respective normal working nights, as being at rather widely separated parts of the current jazz spectrum: Jackson with the intricate and cerebral MJQ; Adderley, throughout 1958, featured with Miles Davis’ blowing sextet. But the fact is that both men are far too talented and wide-ranging as musicians to be proper subjects for any such type-casting.

   Bags and Cannonball belong together for several reasons – not the least of which is that both eagerly welcomed the opportunity to get together. There is also the fact that both are firmly “modern traditionalists”; musicians with an awareness of jazz roots and with, in both cases, a strong rhythmic sense and an emphasis on the beat as a basic part of their playing pattern. Above all, there is one other very fundamental meeting ground on which these two come together. Both are, deservedly, highly regarded as practitioners of the blues; and it is the spirit, sometimes the specific form, and always the “soul” of the blues that furnished the prevailing mood for this album.

   Operating in this “soul” groove, and with the mutual respect and admiration these five men feel for each other as a most important element, this turned out to be one of the most relaxed and instinctively well-integrated of record dates. The lineup was a carefully selected one: starting with the basic premise that he’d be working with Bags, Cannonball felt that the other three were clear-cut and necessary choices. ART BLAKEY, of course, is one of the most important – and most swinging – of today’s drummers; the firm and sensitive bassist, PERCY HEATH, has played regularly alongside Jackson in the MJQ; WYNTON KELLY, best known for his work with Dizzy Gillespie’s recent big band and as Dinah Washington’s favorite accompanist, is considered by fellow musicians as just about the best of the younger ‘funky’ pianists.

   Cannonball contributes two themes: the earthy number that gives the album its appropriate title; and a slow-blues Sounds for Sid (dedicated to a favorite disc jockey) that is so strictly in a lights-out mood that – except for one bulb – it was recorded that way. He also provided the airy modernizing of Sidewalks of New York. Bags came up with the unusual Blues Oriental, and also set everyone straight on the changes for Dizzy’s memorable composition of the early-bop era, Groovin’ High.

   This is, fundamentally, a ‘blowing’ date, in the best sense of that much-abused term. It serves, among other things, to show just how much can happen when some very good men are at their ease and feeling in very good form.

   Adderley can also be heard on Riverside on –

Portrait of Cannonball: JULIAN ADDERLEY Quintet; with Blue Mitchell, Bill Evans, Sam Jones, Philly Joe Jones

(RLP 12-269)

Alabama Concerto: featuring CANNONBALL ADDERLEY, Art Farmer (RLP 12-276)

   Art Blakey’s previous Riverside appearances are on –

Monk’s Music; THELONIOUS MONK; with Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane (RLP 12-242)

The Unique THELONIOUS MONK (RLP 12-209)

RANDY WESTON: Trio and Solo (RLP 12-227)

   Percy Heath can be heard on –

The Sound of SONNY ROLLINS (RLP12-241)

   Wynton Kelly is featured on several Riverside LPs, including –

WYNTON KELLY; with Kenny Burrell (RLP 12-254)

Serenade to a Bus Seat: CLARK TERRY Quintet (RLP 12-237)

That’s Him: ABBEY LINCOLN; with Sonny Rollins, Max Roach (RLP 12-251)

Big Six: BLUE MITCHELL Sextet; with Johnny Griffin, Curtis Fuller (RLP 12-273)

The Modern Touch: BENNY GOLSON Sextet; with J. J. Johnson, Kenny Dorham (RLP 12-256)

A HIGH FIDELITY Recording – Riverside-Reeves SPECTROSONIC High Fidelity Engineering

   (Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve)

Produced, and notes written by, ORRIN KEEPNEWS

Engineer: JACK HIGGINS (Reeves Sound Studios)

Cover produced and designed by PAUL BACON – KEN BRAREN – HARRIS LEWINE

Back liner photographs by LAWRENCE N. SHUSTAK

(Cover photograph, by CHARLES STEWART, shows Cannonball Adderley with his King Super 20 Siversonic Alto Sax)


553 West 51st Street New York 19, N.Y.

bottom of page