2 fantastic albums, not really in the same bag, but combined for reissue that still works nicely as a set. The first LP, John Benson Brooks' Alabama Concerto was groundbreaking work – not only for Cannonball
, but for the jazz concerto format, used to strong effect here in this extended modernist composition. The album's based on a number of historical and mythical southern themes – which keeps it from swinging hard all the way through, the work of Adderley
and Art Farmer on the solo sections really opens up the piece and gives it a deep sense of soul. Other players include Barry Galbraith on guitar, Milt Hinton on bass, and Brooks on drums – and themes include "The Loop", "Trampin", "Little John Shoes", "Milord's Calling", and "Rufus Playboy". African Waltz changes up the format entirely, with Adderley
's alto fronting a large group conducted by Ernie Wilkins, and featuring a host of hip players like Melba Liston, Oliver Nelson, Jerome Richardson, Ray Barretto, Sam Jones, and Wynton Kelly. The title track is a beautiful reading of Galt MacDermott's "African Waltz" – and other tracks include "Blue Brass Groove", "Something Different", "The Uptown", and "Letter From Home". Wilkins outdoes himself on this one, really providing some strong swinging arrangements that work well with the complicated groove of the project – and in a way, the record feels more like Randy Weston or Melba Liston's at the helm.