Adderly blows but Zappa's at the wheel

By Nigey Lennon

Los Angeles Free Press, August 28, 1970

Cannonball Adderley's new album is a strange quart of grape juice.

It could very well be called "199 Motels," for the strange resemblance it bears to the music of Frank Zappa and especially to his piece 200 Motels. As it is, the Adderley record is entitled Cannonball Adderley Quintet & Orchestra – a fitting title for a cheap imitation.

Whereas Zappa knows in which direclion to steer his complicated themes, Adderley doesn't. He (and the varioue composers of the three pieces of music on the album) has the style, but not the know how needed to make complex jazz come off sounding like music. "Experience in E," the first cut on the first, side, goes wandering all over the place. If it were performed live, it would fall into the orchestra pit, immediately. Disjointed, disconnected and somewhat unbelievable, it starts, goes through a large number of useless changes, and ends, 20 minutes later.

"Tensity,'' composed by David Axelrod (the man who gave us "Mass in F Minor" and "Release of an Oath" by the Electric Prunes, among other marvellous things) has no theme development. It does have some clever celeste work and a lot of strings, but no substance. It sounds like background music for a Zee toilet paper commercial.

Lalo Schifrin's "Dialogues for Jazz Quintet & Orchestra" is supposed to be the album's crowning glory. It may not be that great, but at least it is the best cut of the three. It seems to have some idea of its eventual goal and sets about getting there in an almost logical manner of locomotion.

"Experience in E," to return to a lost cause, sounds the most Zappa-influenced. It contains a nervewracking "subliminal" track of speeded-up pianos and tinkly little obstructions which Zappa would know what to do with but which Adderley makes into a distracting factor. There are some good spots in the overall composition, but unfortunately the piece continues to return to its third-hand derivation – Adderley by way of Zappa by way of Edgar Varèse el al. It isn't unreasonable at all to expect Zappa ·himself to cut in any minute with "You'll hurl your throat-stop it."

The album's liner notes suggest a delirious night trying to find a gas station out in the desert somewhere. As pretentious as posaible, they appear in the form of arty little scribblings on notebook paper. Some of the sentiments expressed are: "Minor seconds is beautiful" and "Eeeeee." You get the idea.

Capitol ST484 applies to this form of thoughtful pretention.

If, also on Capitol, isn't too bad. Neither is it too good. It falls somewhere in the middle and ranks with, probably, Blood, Sweat and Tears' third album. (Easy listening, but not many brains required for maximum enjoyment). Maybe there was too much hype about If, labelling them as "that revolutionary new jazz-rock-blues band from England." Revolutionary they're not.

Jazz-wise, If is very weak on quality. Their arrangements are all very similar and after awhile begin to sound like so much rehash. And, like many another band, they seem to feel that each number should last at least five minutes.

They are very polished, however, if uninspired. Their music is good, if uninteresting. Mostly, their problem seems to be not listening to their own playbacks in the studio. When they do, they will be hailed as rivals to Blood, Sweat ond Tears.

Quatermass is an English trio. They haven't been subject to much hype, which is lucky, for their first album on Harvest Record is far ahead of its time.

Without using the standard guitar-bass-drums lineup that many groups fall sordidly into, they disperse an inventive mixture of jazz, rock and classical music that sounds uniquely like themselves. "Laughin' Tackle" and "Entropy,"' both instrumental, are collages of sound that defy the listener to analyze them.

Vocals and lyrics are also good, though unfortunately undermike most of the time. "Black Sheep of the Family" has especially interesting lyrics: "Fortune shine your light on me and my dog 'cause we need some security; While other folks are living high off the hog I'm the black sheep or the family."

lt's about time things got interesting.