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Cannonball Adderley - Why Am I Treated So Bad!

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Artist: Cannonball Adderley

Album: Why Am I Treated So Bad!

Label: Capitol

Review date: Jun. 28, 2006

In the fall of 1966, Cannonball Adderley waxed what would become his best selling album with his trumpet-playing brother Nat – a raucous serving of postbop meets soul jazz produced by David Axelrod called Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. Capitol was quick to parlay the commercial success into a sequel, bringing the band back in front of a live audience five months later for the ironically-titled Why Am I Treated So Bad!

By this point in his career, Adderley was fairly reliant on formula and the subsequent set list isn’t all that concerned with surprises or subverted expectations. Instead, the altoist’s ample Floridian drawl fills the spaces between songs with soulful and charismatic stage banter and it’s obvious that both spectators and quintet are having a grand time in the laidback setting. “Mini Mama,” borrowed from colleague Curtis Fuller’s songbook, gets things going with a Ray Charles groove via Joe Zawinul’s rippling electric piano. Victor Gaskin and Ron McCurdy complete the quintet, filling their respective roles with proficient, if largely pedestrian, attention to rhythm. The rowdy audience is clearly whooping, hollering and clapping right along with the band to the degree that the concert atmosphere almost sounds staged.

The Adderleys echo a nepotistic proclivity of Ornette with the next track, “I’m on My Way,” composed by Nat’s 11-year old son. It’s not much more than a vamp, but the skeletal structure accords tasty solo space for both father and uncle while Zawinul’s acoustic keys comp carefully underneath. The Pops Staples-penned title piece is just the sort of sorghum and butter number Cannonball craved. Zawinul’s funky amplified ivories once again corner the action and leave the horns to decorative blues riffing. The crowd eats it up, conveying their appreciation with more rambunctious commentary across the duration. “One For Newk” is a dated nod to Sonny Rollins, barely salvaged by a strong solo showing by Cannonball, but Nat’s “The Other Side” wisely returns the compass to more earthy soul fare. The rhythm section locks in tight, but the piece really takes flight during the horn solos, which simmer with expressive heat. Zawinul once again steals spotlight honors with a rhapsodic improvisation at the tail end. Two fragments – the lush, yet delicately voiced “Yvette,” and the loosely swinging coda “The Scene” – serve as colorful segues.

This new reissue also includes two bonus studio tracks taped four months after the fact that translate to nearly 20 more minutes of music. “Heads Up! Feet Down!” is another soul bop burner of a stripe similar to the core program. The stellar “The Girl Next Door” offers a fine forum for Nat’s Miles-muted brass and belies its vintage, sounding more like an outtake from an Adderley album seven years earlier. While definitely a cut below the classic status of its populist predecessor, this lesser known follow-up still has its share of charms. As live Adderley albums go it’s an entertaining, if middleweight entry.

By Derek Taylor

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