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Cannonball Adderley: Jazz Workshop Revisited

6. Cannonball Adderley Sextet: “Primitivo” (Jazz Workshop Revisited; Riverside, 1963)

Helming a sextet with keyboardist Joe Zawinul and multi-reedist Yusef Lateef, Adderley used “Primitivo” as his (cautious) entrée into the “New Thing.” It’s an Adderley original: a rare beast, and a minimalist one, defined by a modal vamp (Zawinul doing his best McCoy Tyner impression) and simple repetitions. That’s in the composition itself, mind you; the textures, especially with Lateef’s oboe and bass flute, are new and unique, and the solos—Adderley’s in particular—suffuse the whole affair with a kind of dark, Middle Eastern-flavored mystery. At the same time, the brothers pepper the tune with funky fills that remind one instantly of their more traditional, populist vibe. (The rhythmic motif of Nat’s “Work Song,” a staple of the band’s book, appears quite frequently.) Adderley wasn’t shy about experimenting, but neither was he shy about shaping the experiments in his own image.