Liner Notes:  The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco:  Live at the Jazz Workshop – by Ralph J. Gleason

July 26th, 2017

In this edition, Ralph J. Gleason’s liner notes to this classic 1959 recording describe the epic four week stint of Cannonball Adderley’s Quintet in San Francisco’s Jazz Workshop, as well as the vibrant late-50’s jazz scene in the city’s North Beach neighborhood.  

Gleason — who at the time was a music critic at the San Francisco Chronicle — would go on to co-found Rolling Stone Magazine.   North Beach (particularly Broadway) — while forever bohemian — would subsequently became the home to Carol Doda and a boundary-breaking strip club scene.

Cannonball, of course, was among jazz music’s most important players who, at the time of this recording and well into the 1960’s, was a leading exponent of hard bop.  Best known on a large scale for the 1966 jazz-funk recording “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” Adderley tested musical bounds throughout his career, and devoted much of his life to music education. 



In San Francisco – recorded at the Jazz Workshop


San Francisco; October 18 and 20, 1959.


Side 1

  1. A few words by Cannonball…and This Here [12:26] (Bobby Timmons)
  2. Spontaneous Combustion [11:44] (Julian Adderley)

Side 2

  1. Hi-Fly [11:07] (Randy Weston)
  2. You Got It! [5:07] (Julian Adderley)
  3. Bohemia After Dark [8:28] (Oscar Pettiford)


Notes by Ralph J. Gleason


When the CANNONBALL ADDERLEY QUINTET finished Hi-Fly – its closing number after a four week engagement at The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco in October of 1959 – the audience stood and cheered and whistled and clapped for fifteen minutes.

In a dozen years of covering jazz events in San Francisco, I have never seen anything like this happen.  Believe me, it was impressive.  The audience absolutely loved the band and the feeling of love spread throughout the club night after night, set after set.

It may strike you that the word “love” is a little over-sentimental in such a context.  But it was true.  There is in the current Cannonball Adderley group a great, sweeping feeling of warmth that is the characteristic of jazz which, all attempts to intellectualize it to the contrary notwithstanding, marks it as a reflection of the best of American culture.

When Dmitri Shostakovich, the Russian composer, went to hear his first authentic American jazz, he went to the Jazz Workshop and sat for an hour attentively listening to Cannonball’s group.  He made no comment whatsoever, which is in itself a comment of sorts.  But he dug.  He smiled appreciatively several times, applauded vigorously on occasion, and leaned forward intently to watch a Louis Hayes drum solo.

The Russians were the only people in four weeks who did not move a muscle in time to the band.  The rhythm of this group is contagious and its overall effect might well cause the lame to walk and the halt to throw away their crutches.  At times the atmosphere of the Jazz Workshop resembled a church as much as jazz club.  The band quite obviously was having a ball (“I have never worked a job I enjoyed more” was the unanimous verdict of Julian and Nat) and there was no reluctance on their part to show it.  When Bobby Timmons’ exciting This Here (“it’s part shout and part moan”) would get moving, with Bobby in the midst of one of his full-fingered, rocking solos where he seems almost to be playing a duet with himself, the whole place would start rocking and stomping with the band.

The Jazz Workshop is a small club on Broadway in the North Beach district of San Francisco.  That street is today’s 52nd Street with jazz clubs and action going on all night long, people carrying on in the streets and flowing off the sidewalks into the traffic lane on the weekends.  Cannonball did capacity business all through his four weeks.  On the weekends you couldn’t get into the club until someone else got out (shades of the old Famous Door and the Onyx).  People gathered outside the club to hear the band on the street (you could hear this band on the street, believe me) in clusters that blocked traffic.

It was, as I’ve said, quite an experience even for San Francisco, which has had a few jazz experiences.

The band was together only briefly before opening in San Francisco, but by the time the album was cut they were sounding like a series of identical twins (or should I say a set of quintuplets?).  For me, hearing this group was delightful:  one after another its members dominated my listening on a number.  And then the impact of the full band would hit.  I can honestly say that it has been a long time since I have so thoroughly enjoyed a group.  I only hope that some portion of this come through to you in hearing the album so that you may share this enjoyment.

I would like to draw attention especially to two tracks, Randy Weston’s smashing Hi-Fly and Bobby Timmons’ This Here; to Nat Adderley’s jubilant, puckish playing throughout; to Julian’s incredibly rhythmic soloing (a chart of his accents would read like a drum part), to Sam Jones and Louis Hayes.

And then I would like to add Jon Hendricks’ classic one word jazz poem:




Ralph J. Geason is one of the country’s most outstanding jazz critics, Editor of the magazine Jazz, and a widely syndicated columnist whose “Rhythm Section” appears in the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Journal-American, Washington News and other papers coast-to-coast.


Florida-born JULIAN ADDERLEY, now widely and deservedly regarded as the man on alto, spent 1958 and much of ’59 as a featured member of the Miles Davis Sextet before launching his own group, which makes its record debut here.  His other Riverside LP’s include –

Cannonball Takes Charge (RLP-303)

Things Are Getting Better; with Milt Jackson (RLP 12-286)

Portrait of Cannonball (RLP 12-269)

His formidably talented brother, NAT ADDERLEY, leads recording groups of his own on –

Branching Out; with Johnny Griffin, ‘The Three Sounds’ (RLP 12-285)

Much Brass; with Wynton Kelly (RLP 12-301)




A HIGH FIDELITY Recording (Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve).  Produced by ORRIN KEEPNEWS.  Cover produced and designed by PAUL BACON-KEN BRAREN-HARRIS LEWINE.  Back-liner photograph by WILLIAM CLAXTON.  Engineer: REICE HAMEL.  Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Corp.) on a HYDROFEED lathe.



Are produced by

Bill Grauer Productions, Inc.

553 West 51st Street

New York 19, NY








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