This Album Changed My Life: Cannonball Adderley – Somethin’ Else (1958)

Musician and composer Seán Mac Erlaine on his jazz awakening

 

At the end of summer in 1992, my brother came home from working on the east coast of North America with a small suitcase of compact discs. At that point, our house contained a combined two dozen CDs, and most of my education came from the pirate radio stations. My music obsession had just two simple rules: 1) no opera, 2) no jazz. However, this pale blue suitcase was packed full of jazz CDs, and this album really stuck with me. Within months I had put down my six-string and was pleading for a saxophone.

Seán Mac Erlaine: I had never heard an album which combined deep groove, beauty of tone, aching lyricism and blistering energy in such huge doses
Seán Mac Erlaine: I had never heard an album which combined deep groove, beauty of tone, aching lyricism and blistering energy in such huge doses

I had never heard an album which combined deep groove, beauty of tone, aching lyricism and blistering energy in such huge doses.

Up to this point, I was absorbed by Dylan and other great wordsmiths whose music served to support the lyrics to a song, to carry a voice. But here were musicians playing instrumental music with nuance, colour and soul. I shifted towards the flow and emotional immediacy of jazz and away from the narrative world; towards the abstract truth.

Today I marvel at the spaciousness in production, the sophistication of New York’s urban music from the 1950s and the simplicity with which Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Sam Jones and Art Blakey approached it.

Seán Mac Erlaine plays Union Chapel, London on May 19th and supports Damo Suzuki at The Grand Social, Dublin on May 26th. 

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