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Much Brass: NAT ADDERLEY Sextet

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

Nat Adderley (cnt) Slide Hampton (tb) Laymon Jackson (tu) Wynton Kelly (p) Sam Jones (b) Albert Heath (drs) A-1: Jones (cello), Hampton (tb), Jackson (b) B-2,4: omit (tb)    

NYC; March 23 & 27, 1959


  1. Blue Concept (7:37) (Gigi Gryce)

  2. Little Miss (7:37) (Duke Pearson)

  3. Israel (3:53) (John Carisi)

  4. What Next? (3:20) (Duke Pearson)


  1. Moving (5:30) (‘Slide’ Hampton)

  2. Blue Brass Groove (5:39) (Nat Adderley)

  3. Accents (5:40) ((‘Slide’ Hampton)

  4. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child (4:06) (traditional)

   The “Much Brass” of this album refers first of all to the firm, potent cornet of NAT ADDERLY, one of the warmest and most dynamic performers in jazz today. Beyond that, the album title points up the instrumental setting featured here – a striking three-brass blend of cornet, trombone and tuba.

   This unusual lineup actually stems from the fact that Nat is more than one kind of horn man. The LP that first displayed on Riverside the driving vitality of this increasingly impressive young artist was an album emphasizing his thorough grasp of bed-rock blues (Branching Out – RLP 12-285). But although he is capable of bringing a strong element of blues-linked ‘soul’ to almost everything he plays, this is no mere roughhewn blues-shouter. Adderley has tremendous bite and power, and great control of his horn and its remarkable range. (He is one of the very few I can think of who can move into the upper register without making a strained, walls-of-Jericho production number out of it, and without ever rubbing your nerves the wrong way.) In this one aspect of his playing at least, Nat’s power and facile technique make it seem as if he might really belong with big-band jazz. Probably, in a slightly earlier period when big orchestra were the rule rather than the exception, he might have wound up there – and would undoubtedly have been mightily frustrated. For it is also very much to the point that Nat, in addition to everything else, is decidedly most at home and thrives best in the relaxed, blowing atmosphere of small-group music.

   It is this particular paradox that is being ingeniously attacked by the five three-brass arrangements of this album. It was Nat’s feeling that, given properly flexible scoring and properly flexible musicians to work with, he could come up with a fat, mellow, big ensemble and solo-background sound while still holding on to small-band freedom. In selecting trombonist-arranger ‘Slide’ Hampton, he came up with a large part of his answer. Originally, Nat had been thinking in terms of two trombones; then he ran into Laymon Jackson, whom he had known in the Army. Jackson had more recently been concentrating on string bass, but on short notice he returned to tuba, providing a distinctive conception (a funky tone and almost trumpet-like agility) that rounded out the front-line sound Adderley was seeking.

   Two of Hampton’s arrangements are of his own tunes. Accents offers a good example of two horns pairing off in turn to furnish full-sounding backgrounds for the solo blowing of the third, while Moving adds the big-band device of ensemble horn figures framing a piano chorus. Two other score the work of a talented young composer, Duke Pearson: both Little Miss (which violates the trite rules of routining by placing ‘fours’ right after the opening ensemble chorus) and the Latin-esque What Next? Leave room for drummer Al Heath. Then there is a rich re-working of John Carisis’s Israel (first recorded on the celebrated Davis-Mulligan “Birth of the Cool” session).

   The other three selection, by way of contrast, turn away from arrangements to explore a warm, earthy vein of jazz. On Blue Concept only, the instrumentation is shuffled a bit: Jackson switches t bass and Hampton to tuba, while Nat shares the spotlight with some rich and remarkable plucked cello by Sam Jones and the unsurpassed blues piano of Wynton Kelly. Blue Brass Groove is an original with the down-home church-blues feel that is an Adderley specialty. Motherless Child, as handled here with great taste and beauty by Nat and Wynton, seems to me to show the affinity between spirituals and blues in much the same way as the singing of Mahalia Jackson does.

   NAT ADDERLEY, born in Tampa, Florida in November, 1931 has been featured with his brother, alto star Cannonball Adderley; with J. J. Johnson; and with both large and small Woody Herman groups. On a tour of England with Woody; just after this album was recorded, he shook up the British critics, who seem once again to be slightly ahead of this country in recognizing the emergence of a new, important and individual jazz artist . . .  ‘SLIDE’ HAMPTON has of late been both playing and arranging for Maynard Ferguson’s big band . . . LAYMON JACKSON, recently arrived on the scene from Atlanta, is making his recording debut. . . . WYNTON KELLY, who has been with the Miles Davis Sextet, and before that with Dizzy Gillespie groups, is as fine a rhythm-section and solo pianist as can be found today; he appears on just about as many Riverside LPs as we can get him on . . . bassist SAM JONES is also a frequent asset to this label’s sessions; he has served with the Adderleys, with Dizzy and with Thelonious Monk . . . ALBERT HEATH, with whom Nat worked in the J. J. Johnson quintet, is the highly promising younger brother of bassist Percy Heath; this is his first (but assuredly far from his last) Riverside appearance.

   Nat’s previous Riverside album is –

Branching Out: NAT ADDERLEY Quintet; with Johnny Griffin (RLP 12-285)

   He can also be heard in one selection on –

NEW BLUE HORNS: previously unissued blues by Chet Baker, Nat Adderley, Kenny Dorham, Blue Mitchell, Clark Terry (RLP 12-294)

   Kelly can be heard on many outstanding Riverside LPs; he leads groups of his own on –

Kelly Blue: WYNTON KELLY Sextet and Trio; with Nat Adderley, Benny Golson (RLP 12-298)

WYNTON KELLY; with Kenny Burrell, Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers (RLP 12-254)

   Other jazz albums of particular interest include –

The THELONIOUS MONK Orchestra at Town Hall (RLP 12-300)

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

Cannonball Takes Charge: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quartet (RLP 12-303)

Things Are Getting Better: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY; with Milt Jackson (RLP 12-286)

Blue Spring: KENNY DORHAM Septet; featuring Cannonball Adderley (RLP 12-297)

Drums Around the World: PHILLY JOE JONES’ Big Band sounds; with Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan (RLP 12-302)

Blues for Dracula: PHILLY JOE JONES Sextet; with Nat Adderley (RLP 12-282)

Deeds, Not Words: MAX ROACH (RLP 12-280)

Out of the Blue: BLUE MITCHELL; with Benny Golson, Art Blakey (RLP 12-293)

Everybody Digs BILL EVANS (RLP 12-291)

A HIGH FIDELITY Recording – Riverside-Reeves 

   SPECTROSONIC High Fidelity Engineering (Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve)

Produced, and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS

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

Photographs by LAWRENCE N. SHUSTAK

Engineer: JACK HIGGINS (Reeves Sound Studios)

Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Corp.) on a HYDROFEED lathe.


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

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