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"Luther Hughes and the Cannonball-Coltrane Project:
Things Are Getting Better (Primrose Lane)"
by Ron Wynn
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.