Although he's best known as one of the leading lights of '50s hard bop (besides leading his own group, he played with Miles Davis off and on throughout the decade) and '60s soul jazz (his hit "Mercy Mercy Mercy," which leads off this 1990 collection, is the style's pinnacle), alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's greatest gift was as a balladeer. His playing style on ballads was as soft and gentle as Paul Desmond's, but his warm, rounded tone had the heft of Charlie Parker's. This gave solidity to his solos that cool-jazz-oriented players often lacked.
Adderley's graceful solos on such standards as "Stella by Starlight," "The End of a Love Affair" and the moody "I Concentrate on You" are simply outstanding, and his sidemen, almost always including his cornetist brother Nat, are masters of the soulful groove. Though far from comprehensive, this is an excellent introduction to Adderley's gifts.