May 9, 2016

The Cannonball Adderley Quintet - Accent on Africa, 1968

Guest post by Charles Cave

This is an album I would describe as multi-sensory and completely transporting. Listening to it, I feel refreshingly elsewhere! Really, it should be thought of less a quintet record, and more a formidable big-band recording with, as the name suggests, a palpable African feel. There's boisterous and joyful percussion throughout, and some tasteful solos by Adderley, but for me what makes this record stand out are the memorable refrains and motifs. Adderley's opening lead on "Khatsana," on my first listen, made me think I had heard it a hundred times before; it’s narrative in such a familiar way and has an effortless predictability that makes you feel you've written it yourself and are merely conducting the musicians in your ears. In typical big-band style, the record is a sure-fire party winner, and the African influenced grooves and chunky percussion only add to the sense of lively ensemble and GOOD TIMES. There's also a filmic quality to much of the instrumentation here, like the sultry "Up And At It," which wouldn’t be out of place in a stylish 60’s detective film. "Gun Ja" slows things back down, initially feeling like a mourning song with a wailing distant vocal before picking itself back up gradually, for a dramatic final chorus with cinematic horn lead. As far as big band records go, this is right up there for me alongside my favourites like Duke Ellington's The Far East Suite. A total romp, with unforgettable melody and some genuinely touching moments. Highly recommended.


  1. Beautiful. I just came across this if you haven't seen it yet.