18. Nancy Wilson / Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley (1962)
Wilson appears with Cannonball and brother Nat, singing six of 11 selections. The remaining instrumentals are the stock and trade of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, a group that prospered playing hard bop with a heavy helping of blues and soul. The addition of a vocalist produces a velvety sophistication that is very appealing. Wilson's songs are dustier selections that depart somewhat from standard fare and make a cracking good program. Most importantly, the chemistry between Wilson and the quintet really cooks. Nat uses the mute to good effect, augmenting his brassy tone with an even more strident edge ("Never Say Yes"), while Cannonball tears through some hot leads of his own on (like "Teaneck" and "Unit 7"). Wilson seems right at home in this setting, her voice like just another instrument in the front line. She is gifted with an expressive range, as in "(I'm Afraid) the Masquerade is Over" where she quietly laments her blues with Zawinul tinkling in the background, ultimately breaking into the next register, climaxing, and bringing the song to a thunderous close. Wow.