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Cannonball Adderley: Accent on Africa

8. The Cannonball Adderley Quintet: “Marabi” (Accent on Africa; Capitol, 1968)

An odd duck in Adderley’s discography—part of a less-than-cherished section of his Capitol Records era—Accent on Africa features a band that’s mostly studio guns. (The Adderley brothers and bassist Ray Brown are the only exceptions.) Yet it’s another fascinating experiment. Adderley digs into the rhythms of the Motherland, and finds himself quite at home within them. The brass choir and backing vocals are window dressing; what really makes “Marabi” work is that it taps into the ebullience that was always at the heart of Adderley’s music. His alto makes its statement in the tune’s second half, and it’s as distinctive and recognizable in attacking the interlocking rhythms of West Africa as it is in taking on American swing.