Saturday, October 26, 2013

CD Reissue of the Month - "Cannonball Adderley: The Happy People"

CD Reissue of the Month
Cannonball Adderley: "The Happy People" (Capitol)

**** (musical performance)
*** (sonic quality, original recording & mix)
**** (digital mastering)

Produced by David Axelorod & Cannonball Adderley
Art Direction: John Hoernle
Design: Roy Kohara
Cover Illustration: George Barrell
Photography: Leroy Brooks

Featuring: Cannonball Adderley (alto sax), Nat Adderley (cornet), George Duke (acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes), Walter Booker (acoustic bass), Chuck Rainey (electric bass), Roy McCurdy (drums), Airto Moreira (percussion, lead vocals), Mayuto Correa (percussion & congas), Octavio Bailly (percussion), King Errison (congas), David T. Walker (electric guitar), Olga James (vocals), Flora Purim (vocals, vocal effects)

At last! Reissued for the fist time on CD,  it's one of Cannon's most amazing albums from his Capitol years. Probably, the most "surreal" one. Recorded "live in the studio," on July 31, 1972, it sounds like an acid jam session. A truly Brazilian-oriented multi-cultural trip. Like the text in the back cover tries to explain: "inspired by a trip to Brazil, the new music of Cannonball Adderley - like flesh & blood & Rio... hot & humid & happy & unimaginably real..." 

Adderley's quintet (brother Nat + George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy) is joined by some very special guests: Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Mayuto Correa, Chuck Rainey, David T. Walker, Olga James. Four great tracks, co-produced by arranger David Axelrod, including Nat Adderley's "Savior," the only track that David actually produced. He merely "supervised" the other ones, athough credited as arranger on Airto's "The Happy People." Olga James sings beautifully (with a lot of reverb) on the gospel-oriented "Savior," recorded a couple of days later with no "the audience," without Mayuto, Octavio and King Errisson, and with a much better recorded sound than on the other tunes. Chuck Rainey's Fender bass replaced Booker's acoustic one. Fake applauses were added. No problem. It sounds nice, anyway. 

However, the essential tracks are the other ones, all by Brazilian composers: Milton Nascimento's "Maria Três Filhos" (also covered two years later by George Duke on his 1974 LP "Faces in Reflection" for MPS), and two songs featuring Airto Moreira's raw & wild vocals: the original version of Airto's own "The Happy People" (which he would re-record for Warner in '77 on "I'm Fine, How Are You?" and, later on, in 1984, with Portuguese lyrics for "Aqui Se Pude" on the Montuno label), and Benito di Paula's samba "Ela," sung in Portuguese as well as with uncredited English lyrics. You'll not believe in your ears!

All these tracks include a four-man percussion section that sounds like a much-larger "samba school drum ensemble," with no overdubs: Airto works as the leader, using several percussion instruments like pandeiro (tambourine) and agogô; King Errison (often employed by Cannon and later featured on Flora Purim's "Stories To Tell," concentrates on the congas; another great LA-based Brazilian percussionist, Mayuto Correa (he would later record with Henry Mancini and Freddie Hubbard), also focuses on congas, but plays other instruments on "Ela"; and the fourth percussionist, Octavio Bailly Jr., is actually a bassist, who had recorded with Cannonball for the first time on "Cannonball's Bossa Nova," the 1962 Riverside date on which the saxophonist was backed by Sergio Mendes' Bossa Rio Sextet.

Flora Purim doesn't sings lead vocals in any of the tracks, but her contribution to the sexy (ok, "erotic") mood of those 3 Brazilian tunes is enormous. She never sings lyrics; "only" seductive wordless vocals plus a few words like "ziriguidum" that once were typical of Brazilian Carnival sambas. Curiously, there's no reverb on Flora's voice, making it sound very different from most of her similar performances on her own solo albums, always with a vast use of reverbs, delays and echoplex that I simply L-O-V-E.   

EMI should reissue Cannon's other Capitol dates, like the fascinating 2-LP live set "The Black Messiah" (1970), immediately. Many albums from his Fantasy years (a catalog now owned by Concord in the USA, and by JVC Victor in Japan) also need to come out on CD soooon, like two albums from 1975: "Big Man," also a 2-LP set, and Adderley's very last session as a leader, "Lovers..." (the only track from that album available on CD is Hermeto Pascoal-composed/arranged "Nascente," included on a best-selling CD compilation produced by Arnaldo DeSouteiro for Milestone in 1987, titled "Brazilian Horizons.")

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