Top critical review
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on 29 December 2014
According to all accounts Mr Adderley was a gifted man with a warm and personable approach to life. He was both supportive and friendly to those closest to him as well as to the younger generations where he promoted jazz music. Though initially unsuccessful, a stint with Miles Davis and then a successful set of albums up to Mercy mercy mercy in 1966 ensured that Cannonball Adderley made a serious and beautiful mark on the world of jazz especially in the definition of soul. This is captured to a certain extent within this book.
The author makes a brave attempt at promoting Cannonball Adderley's later works in fusion and exotic developments of jazz following the decline in the popularity of soul. The author, however, only demonstrates various ways of saying that his music was not commercially viable. To balance these pages out there are exploration of other aspects of Adderley's life: his wife, his interests in education and his influences from Africa.
The book's problem is the lack of research. Nine interviews, a biography of 22 references - I was expecting 100s - a meagre discography with some nonsense about space does not allow additional information. There is space and lots of it. The only problem its filled with the intros provided by Cannonball Adderley freely available to anyone with the albums, and lyrics to songs others wrote to his music, speculation on traffic, the opinions of disk jockeys and some unsubstantiated claim for Cannonball's music having advertising abilities. Why are there 5 references to the Ramsey Lewis song "The In crowd", one would have sufficed. And I am unsure of what startling revelation Mr McCurdy provided, p.144, other than he came to do a record. So What?
There was so much more to talk about. The title of the song "Barefoot Sunday Blues" was provided by Orrin Keepnews rather than Cannonball and he, Cannonball, was not amused as no one would go to church in their bare-feet no matter how poor. Are there no interviews with Keepnews? Is the Louis Smith album, whom Cannonball contributed to, only recorded in mono? How good an actor was he in the 1975 series Kung Fu? Even discussions on the different albums in more detail would have added depth. Are there no out-takes of recordings in the studios that could have provided insights? Interviews with sound recordists? Well interviews with anyone really. More discussion on the legacy of his music and the ever changing world of black music and how his thoughts would be considered today.
One reviewer said it has taken too long for a book on the saxophonist to come out, but for this book the time spent on it's construction was clearly not enough.