Thursday, September 17, 2015

Perfection: Cannonball Adderley's Autumn Leaves

In my early 20s, if I wanted to be anything, I always wanted to be a jazz music writer. Not music criticism per se, but more of a gushing appreciation that I couldn't contain in my head that I felt it was my duty to share with others how brilliant that particular piece of music is. Well, youtube and all the other social media killed my ambition pretty quickly over the years. I have to confess that I can't play any musical instrument. I failed at piano when I was young. But imho, I strongly believe I have musical ears and I pick up sound, especially jazz and can appreciate it much more than any other art form. I know I sound like Clint fucking Eastwood who is apparently a big jazz aficionado.

As I was listening to Cannonball Adderley's Autumn Leaves on the way to work, one brisk September morning, I couldn't stop but admire its mind blowing perfection as one succinct piece of art that is finite and infinite at the same time. It's up there with John Coltrane's My Favorite Things and Miles Davis & Coltrane's version of Bye, Bye Blackbird.

It starts slowly with simple but infectious rhythm by Hank Jones's piano, Sam Jones's bass and Art Blakey's struming. It transitions into birds chirping high up in the trees, letting you know the arrival of Miles Davis. Instantly recognizable by his delicate, emotive playing, he put you in that cozy melancholic mood associated with the composition right away. Adderley's sax exchanges dialog with Davis's then in turn with Jones's keys. Despite Adderley being the band leader on this, his showmanship never overshadows the whole piece and gives Davis a lot more playtime. The gorgeous melody goes on for eternity, and you never want it end. Then Miles's horn peaks and dies in around 8 minute mark, giving me a little heart attack until Jones's keys pick up where Davis left off, like, milliseconds ago, giving it the most thrilling transition ever in music history! Blakey and Jones pick up where they started. And in the dead last minutes, Davis is resurrected to give the smokey finish to the piece. I mean, what composition, what collaboration, what... dang.