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"Things Are Getting Better "
by Ken Dryden - Jan. 2011

Luther Hughes organized his Cannonball-Coltrane Project not only to explore standards and gems of the 1960s and '70s, but also originals by the band. The bassist is joined by drummer Paul Kreibich (who worked with Hughes in the final edition of the Gene Harris Quartet), tenor saxophonist Glenn Cashman, alto saxophonist Bruce Babad, and pianist Ed Czach. Hughes' arrangement of Nat Adderley's "Jive Samba" is a lively toe tapper with great solos all around and tight ensemble work. Babad scored Frank Rosolino's "Blue Daniel" as an infectious waltz with the focus on the two saxes, while the altoist's swinging setting of Cannonball Adderley's gospel-flavored "Things Are Getting Better" preaches to the jazz choir with enthusiasm. The entire band arranged Duke Ellington's "Take the Coltrane" (a simple blues that Duke penned for his record date with John Coltrane), opening with just sax and drums prior to the full band's entrance, with Czach adding an abstract solo. Cashman's intriguing "McCoy" has a dark descending line with a hip Latin rhythm, while his "Trane and Wayne" salutes John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter in a rich ballad setting. Kreibich's cheerful "Green Bananas" is an engaging bossa nova, while Babad's gorgeous ballad "Primrose Star" utilizes the chord changes from Cannonball's arrangement of the standard "Stars Fell on Alabama." Luther Hughes & the Cannonball-Coltrane Project excel in simultaneously looking back at jazz history while contributing to its present and future in a memorable manner.