17 JUL 13 CHRIS SLAWECKI
At first a snapshot of instrumental blues and rhythms led by Cannonball Adderley and Milt "Bags" Jackson, captured in a single day in October 1958, Things Are Getting Better is one of five new Original Jazz Classics Remasters refurbished in July 2013 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Riverside label upon which they were originally released.
Adderley on alto and Jackson on vibes are two of the best at elastically stretching the blues out into the groove, and their jaunty, soulful yet bright blue sound make it easy to believe that Things Are Getting Better indeed. Jackson jumps headfirst into his "Blues Oriental" solo as if diving into the music's deep end, and his funky cool sound so easily dominates the title track that his playing seems almost casual, effortless. Wynton Kelly's tasteful piano chords and accompaniment do, too.
This incendiary take on Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High" is a genuine classic: Cannonball and Bags tag-team the melody, making it soar even higher, then step out with solos that swing out the very essence of cool hard bop. Next up, seven minutes of joyous jamming gives everyone a chance to shake it out on the bustling "Sidewalks Of New York" (the closing, bonus alternate take brings this set home dancing).
Even Better, Adderley and Jackson and company do more than jam. "Serves Me Right" testifies from crosscurrents of jazz and gospel in the languid but pained humid heat of the blues, and broods moodily enough to be a Miles Davis tune.