Aug 15, 2017
If the question is, what bass player has played with Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner for a longer period of time than anyone else, the answer would be…
Yes, the name might not be as familiar to you as those of his iconic bandmates, but for the past thirty years, Cannon has been the bass mainstay for bands led by Roy Hargrove, Jones (until his death in 2004) and currently with Tyner. He’s recorded with the likes of Hargrove (and his string-laden Moment to Moment album), Jeremy Pelt, Russell Malone, and Steve Turre. His eponymous first solo album was released in 2003, so his latest CD, Combinations, is a long overdue treat.
It only takes the few opening moments of “Every Man is a King,” with Cannon soloing artfully before bringing in the band, to see that he is carrying the torch for the kind of bass playing that his mentors and idols mastered. You hear Ron Carter, Ray Brown, Sam Jones, and especially Milt Hinton in his subtle groove, firm control and melodious touch. After decades of being the sideman for top players, he’s allowing them to return the favor on Combinations, and so there are strong contributions from old friends Gary Bartz, Malone, Turre, Steve Slagle and especially drummer Francisco Mela. Mela holds down the drummer’s chair in Mc Coy Tyner’s group, and the chemistry he and Cannon have developed over the years shines through on any number of tunes.
Podcast 587 is my conversation with Gerald, as he talks about the new CD, and tells wonderful stories about what he learned from his time with Hargrove, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner. He also speaks wistfully about the late Geri Allen, as Cannon was one of the final musicians to play with her before her untimely death earlier this year. Musical selections from Combinations include the Cannon penned “Amanda’s Bossa” (written for his late mother); “Every Man is a King;” and the classic “Prelude to a Kiss”, which features solos by Russell Malone and Steve Slagle.