Trying To Get To You

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Wonder Of Cannonball Adderley

Occasionally, I get lucky enough to come across a piece of music I've never heard before that reconnects me to why I fell in love with music in the first place. It's a feeling of profound connection to the universe, a sense that everything is in its right place, a profound joyousness and sense of wonder of what human beings at their best are capable of.

This happened a couple of weeks ago. I was running some errands and was listening to my iPod with it on shuffle and on came an unfamiliar jazz piece. I continued walking, concentrating on whatever mundane task was at hand and then I slowly found my attention being drawn, no, rather taken, by the music. I took my iPod out and saw the song: "Spontaneous Combustion," by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet.

It's a long song, almost 12 minutes, but every second of it occurs as essential; it's playing not for the sake of playing, rather, it's exceptionally skilled musicians communing with their audience, conveying not just a love of music, but a love of being alive and all that it entails, both the good and the bad. As pianist Bobby Timmons finishes his phenomenal solo toward the end of the track, you can hear the people in the crowd erupt - and then when Cannonball (on alto saxophone) and his brother Nat (on cornet) do a brief call and response before they go into the final solo, you can hear the audience sensing that they're seeing and hearing something extraordinary. It's an astonishing piece of music.

What they saw and heard was soul, perhaps a different version of what we think of when we hear the word "soul." But it continues to astound, almost fifty years later.

Download: Cannonball Adderley Quintet: "Spontaneous Combustion"

Buy The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco at the Amazon Mp3 store

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