The result was liberating. Such an ebullient, crowd-pleasing saxophonist couldn’t help but become more successful when he was allowed to perform the music he enjoyed. And so, during the 16 Riverside albums recorded from 1958 to 1963, soon after leaving Miles Davis’ group (where he participated in the massively influential Kind of Blue), Adderley grew even more, artistically, and in the public’s perception.
Riverside Profiles: Cannonball Adderley includes representative tracks from nine of those albums, starting with Adderley’s first one, Portrait of Cannonball, which includes Blue Mitchell, Bill Evans, Sam Jones and Philly Joe Jones as they cover Davis’ "Nardis." Such a performance illustrates one of the pleasures of the compilation: the opportunity to hear Adderley in some of his earlier groups before the huge popularity of "Mercy Mercy Mercy," which defined Adderley’s late-career sound. For example, "Things Are Getting Better" includes not only Wynton Kelly, Percy Heath and Art Blakey, but also Milt Jackson, in a track from the album of the same title. "African Waltz" presents Adderley in front of a big band led by Ernie Wilkins, contrasting Adderley’s bright, technically unfettered work with the band’s driving force.
Three of the tracks, "Dizzy’s Business," "Jive Samba" and "Work Song," memorably team Adderley with Yusef Lateef for their mutually invigorating exchanges of ideas that remain fresh after the intervention of 45 years. Of course, "Work Song" remains an important and unforgettable recording due to the inclusion of Nat Adderley during the performance of his own composition.
Still, some of the music for which Cannonball remains forever remembered are contained in Riverside Profiles: Cannonball Adderley. "This Here" with Nat Adderley, Bobby Timmons, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes, is instantly recognizable once Timmons introduces its famous vamp, and Cannonball’s swing into his solo from the vamp still comes across as exciting even when it’s expected. And "Jive Samba" provides the understated groove that mixes Lateef’s coolness on flute with Adderley’s brightness on alto sax as he thrilled the crowd during the live recording in Jazz Workshop Revisited. Riverside Profiles: Cannonball Adderley is part of Concord Music Group’s compilations of recordings that Keepnews produced while he was at the helm of Riverside Records. In addition to Cannonball Adderley, the series includes a CD featuring Chet Baker, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk and Wes Montgomery. Each of the Riverside Profiles includes a bonus disk that includes tracks from other Riverside artists including Art Blakey and Charlie Byrd.