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Louis Hayes and the Cannonball Legacy Band: Dreamin’ of Cannonball

I’m not a big fan of tribute bands (do your own thing!), but Louis Hayes has as much right as anyone living to mine the repertoire of Cannonball Adderley, having spent some six years as drummer in the alto saxophonist’s quintet. On Dreamin’ of Cannonball (TCB) he breathes fire into 10 tunes associated with one of the most popular combos in jazz. With this kind of group, the alto chair is crucial, and Hayes was smart to pick Vincent Herring, a saxophonist with formidable technique and the appropriately aggressive attitude to put it over. Like Adderley, Herring tells a story when he plays, quotes other songs in his solos (i.e., “52nd St. Theme”) and always plays hip turnarounds at the ends of his phrases. No surprises with the tunes: there are brisk versions of “Work Song,” “The Chant” and “Del Sasser,” and pianist Rick Germanson gets his moment on the Bobby Timmons classic “Dat Dere.” Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt plays the Nat Adderley role with a different approach. Unlike most instrumentalists in this genre, Pelt starts his solos playing long phrases that gradually become shorter and shorter until they climax in shouts. He does this quite effectively on “The Jive Samba,” though his best work is on “Fiddler on the Roof” (sorry, but the actual title of this tune from the Broadway show is “Tradition”). Though this is a studio recording, you can tell this is a group and program that will sound even better in front of an enthusiastic audience.

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