Cannonball Adderley Quintet: Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone); Nat Adderley (cornet); Joe Zawinul (acoustic & electric pianos); Victor Gaskin (bass); Roy McCurdy (drums).
Producer: Davis Axelrod.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded live at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, California on October 20, 1966.
Personnel: Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone); Cannonball Adderley; Nat Adderley (cornet); Joe Zawinul (piano, electric piano); Roy McCurdy (drums); Victor Gaskin.
Audio Remixer: Larry Walsh.
Liner Note Authors: E. Rodney Jones; Michael Cuscuna.
Recording information: Capitol studios, Los Angeles, CA (10/20/1966).
In Los Angeles during the fall of 1966, Cannonball Adderley and his crack quintet laid down one of the most joyous, defining statements in the history of hard bop. MERCY, MERCY, MERCY, recorded live before a select and very vocal audience at Capitol Tower's capacious Studio A, presages the funkybutt rhythm changes and hollering gospel testimonies that distinguish contemporary jazz and new jack fusion, but with a greasy vitality and cerebral harmonic elegance often lacking in today's imitations.
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet of 1966 was a juggernaut of swing. Whether romping through complex bebop variations ("Hippodelphia"), dipping into sanctified waters with a hot-wired boogaloo arrangement ("Sticks"), or combining the two moods in an exhilirating game of vamp and release ("Fun"), their years of bandstand experience added up to the kind of deep feeling that sequencers will never sample. On Cannonball's closing "Sack O' Woe," drummer Roy McCurdy, bassist Victor Gaskin and that unlikeliest of funkateers, the Austrian pianist Josef Zawinul (some four years before Weather Report), essay what seem like a compendium of the most celebratory church beats since the Civil War, as the altoist and his cornet-wielding brother testify fervently about better times coming.
But on an album full of toe-tapping, high-flying, good time music, it is Zawinul's classic title tune that pays the freight. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" was an unlikely top 10 hit, and inspired scores of jazz wannabes. Zawinul's use of the Wurlitzer electric piano gives "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" much of its smoky, down-home, after-hours ambience. Yet, it's the telepathic interplay and supple dynamics of the rhythm section, and the ardent vocal amens of the Adderley brothers that give this tune such a classic glow.