We my 3000m anaerobic endurance swim behind me and my interval spin (and maybe some weights) this evening, the only thing I aim to accomplish this afternoon is Day 67 of my 100 Day Challenge. And, for this particular lunchtime on the mat session today I’m enjoying one of the fruits of my labors from yesterdays Record Fair in Hamilton, Ontario, the ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! – Live at “The Club”‘ album by the Cannonball Adderly Quintet.
This is a 1966 album by Adderley’s quintet, which received the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance – Group or Soloist with Group in 1967. Though the original liner notes state that it was recorded at the Club DeLisa in Chicago, it was actually recorded at Capitol’s Hollywood studio with an invited audience and an open bar. The reason for this discrepancy (hoax?), according to the liner notes, is that Adderley and the new manager of Club DeLisa (which had been renamed “The Club”, after operating for years in Chicago under its old name) were friends, and Adderley offered to give the club a bit of free publicity. In fact, the entire back album notes are dedicated to describing the club as one of the most “swingingest spots” in Chicago’s South Side.
Gee, what a nice guy that Cannonball fella.
One has to wonder how much he actually profited from that “free publicity”?
Anyway, wherever it was recorded, the crowd is in an extremely good mood, and Adderley’s quintet, feeding off the energy in the room, gives them something to shout about.
By this point, Adderley had perfected a unique blend of earthy soul-jazz and modern, subtly advanced post-bop; very rarely did some of these harmonies and rhythms pop up in jazz so saturated with blues and gospel feeling. Those latter influences are the main inspiration for acoustic/electric pianist Joe Zawinul’s legendary title cut, a genuine Top 40 pop hit that bears a passing resemblance to the Southern soul instrumentals of the mid-’60s, but works a looser, more laid-back groove (without much improvisation).
The deep, moaning quality and spacey texture of ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy‘ stand in contrast to the remainder of the record, though; Nat Adderley contributes two upbeat and challenging originals in ‘Fun‘ and ‘Games‘, while Zawinul’s second piece, ‘Hippodelphia‘, is on the same level of sophistication. The leader’s two selections – the gospel-inflected ‘Sticks‘ and the hard-swinging, bluesy bop of ‘Sack O’ Woe‘ (the latter of which became a staple of his repertoire) – are terrific as well, letting the group really dig into its roots.
Adderley’s irrepressible exuberance was a major part of his popularity, and no document captures that quality as well – or with such tremendous musical rewards – as this particular album.