"Second Helping" Review
by JERRY O'BRIEN
Jazz Improv Magazine - July 2006
I saw Luther Hughes and the Cannonball-Coltrane Project at Founders Hall in Costa Mesa, California and I was blown away. These guys, music academics all, played some of the hottest bluesy jazz I have ever heard. I believe if the musicians honored in the band's name heard them play they would be pleased.
The Project has come out with their second CD and while nothing satisfies like a live performance, Second Helping will hold me over well until the next time that I see them play. Luther Hughes came up with the idea for the Cannonball-Coltrane Project while listening to the 1959 Cannonball Adderley-John Coltrane album The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago. His vision was that a band [which he was already filling with some choice musicians] would play arrangements of the original songs and that they would take their shared enthusiasm for the music to build on what Cannonball and Trane had created. Second Helping shows that the idea has great merit.
Deciding you are going to pay tribute to these two musical giants, by doing new arrangements of their masterpiece, let alone build on their work, takes guts, a lot of talent and some musical genius of one's own. This group is up to the challenge. They have all played with some of the brightest stars in the jazz galaxy. They are all very educated by both the academic process and performance experience. They all have years of teaching experience. And together they have a respect, love and feel for the music that is so on the mark I know I will find myself listening to them play over and over again. Throughout the album the playing is very clear, crisp and clean. These guys sound like they play together every night, just listen to "Takin' It Home" and you will hear what I mean.
The album opener, Nat Adderley's "Work Song," is arranged by Luther and he did it as a "hard bop shuffle with lotsa grease." From Mr. Kreibich's opening on the snare through the end of the song this is pure hard bop magic. Luther also arranged Milt Jackson's "Bags & Trane," and John Coltrane's "Mr. Syms." Luther replaced Trane's "Mr. Syms" interlude with a bass solo. Very tasty.
Bruce Babad contributes two originals "Trane Robbers," the title track "Second Helping," which swings hard with a slightly 1970s feel. Glenn Cashman also wrote three: "Where's Miles?", "Heróis," and "Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic." Paul Kreibich wrote "Takin' It Home," which he alleges came to him in a dream; how much more into the music can you get? Pianist Ed Czack arranged "Unit 7."
One thing that I noticed was how changing arrangers or composers on the particular pieces never caused a deviation in the spirit of the mu-sic. The roots of this sound show throughout the album and the new growth is very pleasing. I have listened to Second Helping enough to know I will be going back for thirds and maybe fourth helpings of this delicious CD.
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION-Reviewed in Jazz Improv ® Magazine Volume 6, Number 4 ©2006