Cannonball Adderley: Limehouse Blues

A friend of mine summed up The Cannonball Adderley Quintet In Chicago as "the Miles Davis band without Miles". True enough, but it's more than Miles' physical absence that makes this album special: it is a Cannonball Adderley album from the get-go, and most of the music included here would not have fit into the sound of Miles' band as it approached the intense modal moods of Kind Of Blue, which was recorded in the two months following this date. That is certainly the case with "Limehouse Blues", which opened the Adderley record. All thoughts of Miles disappear with the opening rush of Wynton Kelly's introduction. Played at a whirlwind tempo, the band races through the tune before Cannonball bursts in with a note-gobbling solo. His joy is infectious and he rips through sixteenth-note runs with great abandon. Coltrane was also brilliant as fast tempi ("Giant Steps" was only 3 months away) and he kept the searching element of his sound by breaking up his runs with searing held notes. Kelly provides a fleet single-line solo, but the tempo gives him a little trouble near the end of his chorus. The horns play a quick set of exchanges with Jimmy Cobb followed by a chorus of exchanges by the horns alone. After the reprise of the theme, there is an effectively arranged coda that maintains the excitement while offering a satisfying conclusion.

September 15, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Quintette du Hot Club de France: Limehouse Blues

The Quintet of the Hot Club of France played a lot of songs about places they had never visited ("Chicago", "Charleston", etc.), but "Limehouse Blues" was about London and presumably all of the members had been there and knew that neighborhood. The Quintet recorded "Limehouse" twice in just under 8 months (both versions appear on the above CD) and the differences between them are quite astonishing. The first version was made for Decca in October 1935 and it moves along at a staid medium tempo and the solos are well-played but not too exciting. Something must have happened in the 8 months before the Quintet recorded the song again for HMV, for this time the tempo is considerably faster and the feeling is much rougher. Django's guitar murmurs a few dissenting thoughts during the relatively calm first chorus, but as the solos approach, Django and Stephane seem to momentarily fight over who will get the first solo. Stephane plays the solo while Django pushes the intensity with the guitars. To my ears, Stephane seems hemmed in by the simple chord sequence and his phrases, while of varied length, seem to all sound the same. Django has no such problem with the chords and he fires off a brilliant solo, using octaves and chorded passages to set off his ideas. As the solo progresses, his technique seems less polished as his octaves have a rough edge to them. In the ensemble chorus that follows, Django fills with reckless abandon. When Stephane takes back the solo spotlight, he's found his inspiration again, and in the course of his solo, he presages the descending ensemble part recorded by the Benny Goodman Quartet on "Avalon" in the following year. Was Benny listening to the Hot Club records in his off-hours?

September 15, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Duke Ellington: Limehouse Blues

"Limehouse Blues" is not a blues, but it was inspired by the London neighborhood. When Duke Ellington recorded the song in 1931, the song was ten years old and Ellington was just two years away from his first trip to London. The introduction, with an odd clip-clop rhythm from Sonny Greer, sounds more like the Old West than the East End. Ellington must have liked the relaxed loping feel of this song, for he keeps the two-beat going throughout the arrangement. Ellington's setting is a feature for his three saxophonists, but all of the solo segments are in 8-bar pieces. After the theme chorus, a trumpet variation alternates with Johnny Hodges' alto sax. Hodges' early style is in full bloom here, but he (like Harry Carney later on) has problems trying to swing against the two-beat rhythm. Bigard is up next with a wild clarinet tremolo and complete rhythmic security. Carney decorates the melody and briefly tries his own kind of tremolo. Bigard starts his next eight with the same tremolo as if to show Carney how it's meant to be played, and Carney takes the hint and goes back to paraphrasing the tune. The brass have an easier time swinging the phrases in the final ensemble chorus, and Hodges and Bigard each get brief solo spots between the brass figures. At the end, Ellington makes a minor mis-step in bringing back his odd introduction, but not even the trumpet fills by Cootie Williams can make that music make sense.

September 15, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Previous Page | Next Page