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Album review: Things Are Getting Better by Luther Hughes and The Cannonball Coltrane Project
By Francine Rios
Cal State Fullerton DAILY TITAN: December 14, 2010

I couldn't help but feel oh-so-snazzy once I popped in Things Are Getting Better, the latest album released by Luther Hughes and The Cannonball Coltrane Project. With the group's tasty blend of piano, stand-up bass, alto and tenor saxophones and drums, I felt as if I was relaxing in Starbucks, Peppermint Mocha in hand.

What makes The Cannonball Coltrane Project different from just any old Starbucks music, however, is that the group came together to specifically re-create the famous jazz works of saxophonist Cannonball Adderley's Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago, which was Adderley's final album release with Mercury records. This album featured the work of fellow sax player John Coltrane. Adderley and Coltrane recorded Kind of Blue with Miles Davis following the release of Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago in 1959.

The Cannonball and Coltrane Project aims to not copy what Adderley and Coltrane have already done, but rather, they have made music of their own interpretation. Their first album was a direct tribute to the Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago, done in an interpretive manner, and the new album is composed of original music "related to or inspired by Cannonball and/or Coltrane," according to the band's website.

"Our only limit was our imaginations (which we let run wild) and our two CDs are the result," said Luther Hughes, the bass player and band leader of the Cannonball and Coltrane Project, according to the group's website.

If interpretation is what the band was going for, they definitely accomplished it. Each song on Things Are Getting Better has its own personality. Whether it's the shimmy and shake of the album's opening track "Jive Samba," the softly-moving beat and lonely-sounding sax of "Primrose Star," or happy and carefree feel of the album's title song, "Things are Getting Better," this album is bound to bring out the hidden jazz-lover in anyone.

The great thing about The Cannonball and Coltrane Project is that their shows are local. They've played Downtown Fullerton's Steamers Cafe and Jazz Club, The Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach, Hotel Laguna-Rose in Laguna Beach, and even the L.A. Jazz Institute and Birch North Park Theater in San Diego. If the group's recordings are enough to impress you, then an investigation of their live performances couldn't hurt either.

If you've got a special jazz fan in your life (who knows, that person might even be you), order up Luther Hughes and The Cannonball Coltrane Project's Things Are Getting Better from that cool cat they call Santa Claus. The album is also available for purchase on and iTunes. To find out more about the band's upcoming albums and shows, visit