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"Luther Hughes and the Cannonball-Coltrane Project: Things Are Getting Better (Primrose Lane)"
by Ron Wynn
Option Magazine  - Jan 25, 2011

Bassist Luther Hughes and the Cannonball-Coltrane Project’s fourth CD once again popularizes and reworks obscure and familiar compositions from the two jazz legends of the group’s name. Yet, despite the passion and energy they bring to “Jive Samba” or the title track, the polite sensibility and emphasis on tonal accuracy sometimes make these renditions more effective than memorable.

The ensemble, especially tenor saxophonist Glenn Cashman and alto saxophonist Bruce Babad, occasionally escapes the tyranny of accuracy, notably during the middle section of “Softly as in a Morning Surprise.” But even there, Ed Czech’s piano work and the pinpoint interaction between Hughes and drummer Paul Krelbich soon restore melodic and harmonic order.

The players are more aggressive and adventurous on the originals, unconcerned with misstatement or thematic distortion. Babad’s “Glo in the Dark” contains exciting solos, while Cashman’s “McCoy” acknowledges pianist McCoy Tyner’s modal flurries through Czech’s edgy, inventive keyboard work and exacting playing from both horns. Hughes has a bright, huge bass sound, and his extended spotlight on Kreibach’s “Green Bananas” is punctuated by Babad’s unrestrained, swinging alto, done in the style that made Cannonball Adderley’s soul/jazz tunes artistic and popular successes. Cashman’s “Trane and Wayne” recalls jam-session fervor, with pungent statements and crisp rhythm-section work.

The final selection, “Take the Coltrane” (from the Duke Ellinton/John Coltrane LP), is the most entertaining remake. Cashman and Babad accelerate its tempo in a scorching opening section that flows into splintering piano by Czech and includes lots of fiery solos and an excellent drum interlude toward the end. Hopefully, the group’s next disc will either consist of all originals or feature the same free-wheeling, ambitious approach on both vintage and new pieces.