What do Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Cedar Walton, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy Scott, Frank Foster, Stanley Turrentine and Bunky Green have in common? Other than being household names among jazz aficionados, each artist hired Gerald Cannon, the legendary bassist, to handle the low end.
For going on 40 years, Cannon’s been both a fixture of the jazz scene and foundational piece of many bands. He’s an educator, currently serving as an associate professor of jazz at Oberlin Conservatory while continuing to teach at the Juilliard School. Between performing and teaching, Cannon’s had an immeasurable impact on jazz.
An while it’s rare to see a bass player out front, capturing the imaginations of the broader listening audience in the same way that an alto-sax player might, when you are as gifted as Cannon, your playing demands attention. So it’s no surprise to see the Wisconsin native’s new album — recorded live at Dizzy’s Club in New York City — catching everyone’s attention.
Gerald Cannon Live at Dizzy’s Club: The Music of Elvin & McCoy honors two musical giants: pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones, with whom Cannon proudly played alongside for 14 and nine years, respectively. The album features Dave Kikoski, Lenny White, Joe Lovano, Sherman Irby, Eddie Henderson and Steve Turre, all of whom also shared the stage with Elvin and/or McCoy.
Recorded over two evenings in the summer of 2022, Live at Dizzy’s opens with “EJ’s Blues,” an original composition by Jones, and also includes Tyner originals — “Search For Peace, “Blues in the Minor,” and “Inception.” Cannon tackles each song with meticulous arrangements, chronicling the genius of the two artists through his band and voice.
I remember seeing Cannon at the Blue Note in the early 2000s, playing alongside Elvin Jones. And Cannon’s new live album is a reminder that, as I witnessed that night, Cannon was integral in driving Jones’ music forward. Many will never get a chance to hear Elvin or McCoy live, but listening Cannon’s latest release is a close facsimile, allowing you to hear the fire that Cannon was stoking for many years for these renowned musicians. On Live at Dizzy’s, he finally, boldly comes to the front of the stage and takes his rightful place as leader.