When I was getting ready to issue Cannonball Adderley's Mercy, Mercy, Mercy on CD in 1995, David Axelrod told me an interesting tale. Although the cover boldly stated that the album was recorded at "The Club" in Chicago, it had actually been recorded before an invited audience in October 1966 at Capitol's large Studio A on Vine Street in Hollywood, where the bar was open, the weather was warm, and the parking was plentiful. E. Rodney Jones, an old friend of Cannonball's, and fellow DJ Pervis Spann had bought the historic and cavernous Club DeLisa in Chicago and reopened it as The Club; Adderley's quintet was one of the first bookings.
When it came time to release this live-in-the-studio album (Axelrod had already used the same setting for the highly successful Lou Rawls Live! and would do so again for subsequent Adderley albums), Cannonball asked David if he would put the club down as the location and let E. Rodney Jones do a set of liner notes about his club and the recording. What I didn't realize at the time was that this wasn't pure fiction. On March 18-20, the last three nights of Adderley's engagement at The Club, Capitol actually did record him there. Tom Morgan was the producer. Thirty-nine years later, he told me, "I don't remember much about the gig or why the album didn't come out. I do remember being thrilled to be in the Club DeLisa at last because as a kid in Minnesota, I used to listen to Fletcher Henderson and other big bands being broadcast live from there. I also remember that it was snowing for most of the gig."
So what we have here is the lost session out of which grew the fabrication that appeared on Cannonball Adderley's largest selling album! Five tunes — "Money in the Pocket" and "Stardust" as side one, and "Hear Me
Talkin' to Ya," "Requiem for a Jazz Musician," and "Cannon's Theme" as side two — were assembled into an album master but never issued.
Instead, an album entitled Great Love Themes, which Morgan produced in New York with Adderley two weeks later with string arrangements by Ray Ellis, was released. As for the material from The Club, edited versions of "Money in the Pocket," "Hear Me
Talkin' to Ya," and "The Sticks," along with "Cannon's Theme" were issued on two 45 rpm singles. And that was it!
Then, on October 20, Cannonball's quintet went into Capitol's studio to cut Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and everything changed. The Chicago tapes were forgotten. "Money in the Pocket" as well as an early version of "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" showed up on Cannonball in Japan, taped in August, but that record wasn't released internationally until the CD era. Interestingly enough, Adderley never rerecorded any of the other tunes left behind on that planned but forgotten album.
He did, however, revisit "The Sticks," which was not a part of the intended album, but edited and issued as a single. And this tune might be a clue as to why this material was passed over. Adderley announces this tune, his new original, as untitled until the final night of the gig when he dubs it "The Sticks." His explanation solved a mystery for me. When I first listened to rough mixes of these tapes, the audience's applause sounds absolutely tinny and bizarre; then I began to suspect that the audience had been given access to some kind of small drumstick and that many were beating along with the music and using them to applaud. Cannonball's introduction confirms the theory; the odd sound of the sticks may have been a factor in the LP not being issued at the time.
When I came upon the unissued album, I hunted down all the surviving reels of outtakes to find the issued take of "The Sticks" and more material to fill out a CD. The set lists were an interesting mix of new material for the album including "The Sticks" and
"Hippodelphia" (which were redone on Mercy, Mercy, Mercy), tunes to promote the previous album Domination with the Oliver Nelson orchestra ("Introduction to a Samba" and "Shake a Lady"), and songs that would appear on the strings album he recorded a few weeks later ("The End of a Love Affair," "Somewhere," and
"Manha de Carnaval"). I've added three selections to the original album that Adderley and Tom Morgan had planned.
This is the only recording of the quintet to include Herbie Lewis, who was in the band only from February to April of 1966. His playing is exceptional throughout and his big sound is nicely captured by the recording engineers in what must have been a less than ideal situation. Lewis went on to another brief stint with the Jazz Crusaders and his only recording with them can be heard on Festival Album (Pacific Jazz CD 60434).
Joe Zawinul's "Money in the Pocket" was very much in the style of the tunes that Blue Note was having so much success with — a terse, sly, bluesy melody line, a repeated funky bass line, and a solid backbeat. This was the sort of tune that had to have a groove that was in the pocket and was almost guaranteed to put money in your pocket. It's odd that Adderley targeted this tune to lead off the album since Zawinul had recorded it six weeks earlier for his first Atlantic album. Cannonball has never really gotten the recognition he deserves as a ballad player; it's nice to have this beautiful version of "Stardust" available. Cannonball and Nat stretch out on this version of "Introduction to a Samba," which includes a brief solo from Roy McCurdy. "Hear Me
Talkin' to Ya," which has a great slow-blues groove, comes from the first recording session on which Cannonball and Nat appeared, a 1955 Kenny Clarke date for Savoy.
It's a thrill to find an unreleased piece by a composer of Joe Zawinul's stature, which makes "Requiem for a Jazz Musician" the real discovery of this session. Joe explained recently, "The title was inspired by Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight. I wrote it as an ode to many of my jazz musician friends who died of drug-related causes." It's an ambitious and sensitive piece to attempt in a club environment, but these men pull it off beautifully.
After the always concise and explosive "The Sticks," this lost session concludes with "Fiddler on the Roof," which is included for the benefit of those who have never heard the band tear into this song live. It is a ferocious performance and Cannonball is screaming! A nice addition to Cannon's canon.
— Michael Cuscuna