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Luther Hughes and the Cannonball-Coltrane Project: Things Are Getting Better

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With each successive album-this is their fourth-bassist Luther Hughes and the Cannonball-Coltrane Project move further toward sealing an identity of their own. Formed in 2002 initially to pay tribute to the 1959 Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago album, which featured the leader and John Coltrane (moonlighting from Miles at the time) trading off saxophone licks that still resonate a half-century later, the C-C Project quickly began incorporating its own compositions-their 2004 debut shared only one track with its inspiration, a fiery remake of “Limehouse Blues.” Things Are Getting Better includes three songs originally recorded by Adderley-“Jive Samba,” “Blue Daniel” and the title track-along with one, “Softly, As In a Morning Sunrise,” cut by Coltrane on his Live At the Village Vanguard set. Another, “Take the Coltrane,” comes from the collaborative effort of Trane and Duke Ellington. But the remainder of the album is comprised of original compositions by members of the quintet-primarily tenor saxophonist Glenn Cashman, who knows better than to try to ape Coltrane’s style verbatim. On “McCoy,” his tribute to classic Coltrane Quartet-era pianist McCoy Tyner, Cashman blows bold but stops short of stepping too far out of the lines, appropriately leaving the more exploratory moments to pianist Ed Czach. Another Cashman entry, “Trane and Wayne”-the latter of course being Wayne Shorter-succeeds in honoring the two masters without, again, appropriating them. Alto saxophonist Bruce Babad is credited as the arranger on two of the actual Adderley numbers and he both wrote and arranged “Primrose Star,” which he bases on the chord changes of Adderley’s “Stars Fell on Alabama,” from the Chicago album. A lovely ballad, it pays its respects-as this band was created to do-but stands on its own.

Originally Published