Cannonball Adderley w/Bill Evans - Know What I Mean?

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miles ahead

Feb 12, 2008
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Artist:Cannonball Adderley

Title:Know What I Mean?

Year Of Release:1962



The month of February,1961 was a busy one for Bill Evans.It saw him finish a recording session with his critically acclaimed trio-that with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian-which was issued as Explorations(2nd),bolster a date rightfully called a classic by any measure,Oliver Nelson's Blues And The Abstract Truth(23rd) and also find the time to accompany his old bandmate from the Miles Davis Sextet,Cannonball Adderley. Cut on Feb.21st of that year,this was one of three sessions that would eventually yield Know What I Mean? for Riverside. It does not match up to the other dates mentioned(how many records could?),but it proves itself worthy of a listen and not just for the Bill Evans fan(not that there's anything wrong with that!)
Cannonball and Bill were 'simpatico' while with Miles-the seminal Kind Of Blue was not yet two years behind them-and their musical bond continues here. Evans' Waltz For Debby leads off the date,an interesting choice. Nearly six months before the Sunday At The Village Vanguard recordings that would popularize the tune amongst the jazz public, it was leading off an album by another musician who surely had a large book of his own compositions to chose from. Clearly, a measure of the respect that Adderley held for both the tune and it's composer.
Both artists shine on Debby,and it's a kick hearing Bill's loving intro give way to Cannon's alto. Adderley is in a singing mood,and there's a point towards the middle of his solo where he plays a motif that laughingly reappears as the intro to Evans own brief,logically-structured exposition. This track left me wanting more Bill Evans-always a good thing. Incidentally,this disc-a Japanese issue-has only the tracks first put out at the time. More current releases of the session have an alternate version of Who Cares. The sound itself is acceptable,but typical of the period-muffled drums,etc(at least,as far as Riverside is concerned!) This is one to get for the sounds...not the sound!
The rhythm section is bolstered by half of the MJQ-Percy Heath and Connie Kay-and their lock-step precision,in a way,is what enables both Evans and Cannonball to soar above the fray. This they do on the up-tempo Who Cares?and Toy,a Clifford Jordan tune that should be played more often. Nancy(With The Laughing Face) and the mournful Goodbye remind the listener that some of Cannonball's most memorable ballad performances were recorded while Bill Evans was at the piano. Lastly,check out Venice,a gorgeous piece by John Lewis that is the proverbial melody in search of a lyric! Any lyricists out there?:music: Percy Heath's 'deep' chordal intro leads to Cannon's alto which has as restrained-and intimate-a sound as he's ever recorded. He never strays far from the melody line,while Evans toys with it just a bit,playing like someone standing on the edge of a beach-sticking one toe in at a time as the water receeds. The tune ends before either Evans or the attentive listener(that's us),gets any wetter!
Yes, February of 61' should have been a rewarding time for Bill Evans personally as well as artistically. Yet,the original lp shows a gaunt,pale figure-sunglasses affixed-which reminds us what he was also dealing with at the time-personal demons that were never far away, regardless of his creative success.
In spite of it all,on Know What I Mean? Evans was able to-once again-prove himself the perfect foil for Cannonball Adderley. It was also a period of private trials and challenges,although the moment of his most difficult trial-the tragic death of Scott LaFaro-was only a few months away...


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