The tart lyricism in the voice of alto saxophonist Richie Cole owes much to the steadfast association he once had with the legendary Eddie Jefferson with whom he shared a sort, distinguished career. His star also shined brightly when Manhattan transfer chose him to make their celebrated tribute to Mr Jefferson entitled Vocalese. After a period of relative quietude Mr Cole has enjoyed what might certainly be construed as a sort of “second coming” thanks to bassist and producer Mark Perna. Cannonball is a masterful homage to the great Julian “Cannonball” Adderley – a mighty voice that was a bridge between Charlie Parker and John Coltrane – and is the third product of Mr Cole’s and Mr Perna’s association. It comes shortly after two other fine albums the elegiac Plays: Ballads and Love Songs and the sensual Latin Lover.
Mr Cole’s playing on this music of Cannonball, both its rhythmically challenging boppish material and tender balladry, crackles with many moments of uninhibited improvisational forays that pick apart these beautiful melodies. Throughout, his playing is a study in virtuosity and impeccable taste. The dramatic effect increases exponentially with the presence of the incomparable Reggie Watkins on trombone, who also acts as a marvelous harmonic foil to Mr Cole’s soaring and swooping alto saxophone. Mr Cole’s arrangements of music associated with the Cannonball Adderley group – especially the Bobby Timmons-penned “Dar Dare”, “Jive Samba”, “Sack o’ Woe” and Joe Zawinul’s iconic “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” is masterfully recast.
The songs feature thoughtful melodic soli with Mr Cole, Mr Watkins and the others soloists ringing the changes in mood, structure and tempo worshipping at the altar of originality. The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration, individuality and tradition is impressively maintained throughout. This magical combination of skill and musicianship is also extended to the rest of the repertoire on this disc of which Victor Feldman’s “Azule Serape” featuring alto saxophonist Tony Campbell, and “Save Your Love for Me” (both the English and Portuguese versions) featuring the inimitable Brasilian vocalist Kenia are outstanding.
On this and other material as well the group parlays with the familiarity of old friends. This makes for a constantly interesting programme that is touching and toe-tapping in equal measure.
Track list – 1: Del Sasser; 2: Dat Dere; 3: The Stars Fell on Alabama; 4: Matchmaker, Matchmaker; 5: Jeannine; 6: Jive Samba; 7: Bell of the Ball; 8: Sack O’ Woe; 9: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; 10: Save Your Love for Me; 11: Toy; 12: Azule Serape; 13: Unit 7; 14: Save Your Love for Me (Bonus English Version)
Personnel – Richie Cole: alto saxophone; Reggie Watkins: trombone; Kevin Moore: piano and electric piano; Eric Susoeff: guitars; Mark Perna: contrabass; Vince Taglieri: drums (1 – 7, 9, 14); J.D. Chaisson: trumpet (2 – 5); Rick Matt: tenor saxophone (2 – 5); Special Guests – Roger Humphries: drums (8); Kenny Blake: alto saxophone (13); Tony Campbell : alto saxophone (12); Kenia: vocals (10, 14)
Released – 2018
Label – Richie Cole Presents (RCP003)
Runtime – 1:05:06