"Miles had helped me when I first came to New York", Cannonball Aderley recalled in a 1960 article for The Jazz Review. "He told me who to avoid among the record companies, but unfortunately I didn't take his advice. Al Lion of Blue Note was one man he recommended".
Adderley's lament about not taking the trumpeter's recommendations to heart no doubt refers to both the early albums Adderley cut for Savoy and his more extensive output for the Mercury subsidiary EmArcy. In the same article, the alto saxophonist refers to the problems at Mercury, including limited control over the content of his albums and other restrictions made more onerous by the long-term agreement Adderley had signed with the company. This situation, plus the debts Adderley's working quintet had accumulated through the fall of 1957, brought him to a point at which he resolved to take greater care with all aspects of his professional situation. In October 1957 he disbanded his own combo and joined Miles Davis for what would prove to be a two-year stay. Shortly thereafter, Adderley began a transition out from under the EmArcy agreement that was not fully completed until February 1959, when the Davis sextet of the time minus its leader cut the album known alternatively as The Cannonball Aderley Quintet in Chicago and Cannonball and Coltrane.
While Adderley ultimately found a supportive home on Riverside, where he began recording in the summer of 1958 and teped the live Cannonball Aderley Quintet in San Fransisco disc in October 1959 that ensured the success of his reorganized band, he did manage to heed Davis's recommendation and create one album under the guidance of Alfred Lion. Somethin' Else was taped on 9 March 1958, nearly a month before the saxophonist made his first studio session under Davis's leadership. It carries such marks of the Davis input as the stealthy arrangement of "Autumn Leaves", which had grown much brisker by the time a later Davis band got around to recording it live in 1963, and the venerable "Love For Sale", which the Davis band recorded for Columbia three months later (though the track remained unreleased for nearly two decades). Other signs of Milesian influence are the calm, conversational delivery of the title track and the newfound lyricism in Adderley's playing that followed from his nightly experience at the trumpeter's side.
Credit for the intimate, economical force of the album should really be shared among Adderley and producer Lion as well as Davis, who was clearly putting several of his most refreshing insights into practice. The outstanding rhythm section that propels the music with such sureness and taste had ties to all three of the session's prime movers. Hank Jones had been present on Adderley's first recordings as a leader for Savoy, as well as on several early dates led by Cannonball's brother Nat. Like Davis and Blue Note iron man Art Blakey, Jones had also been an associate of Adderley's primary influence, Charlie Parker. Sam Jones was an old Florida friend of Adderley's who had joined the saxophonist's quintet at the end of 1956 and preceded to distinguish himself with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and on several recording sessions before signing back on for Adderley's second and ultimately successful turn as a leader. The instant rapport achieved by the quintet is thus the production of much shared and common history, though the tensile strength that they create throughout a totally unique feeling that can be attributed to the sensitive musicianship of all concerned, including the supposedly hard bopping leader and drummer.
In addition to the five compositions contained on the original LP issue of Somethin' Else,a sixth title from the session was unearthed in the Blue Note vaults and initially released in Japan in 1982. Logs contained no identifying information regarding the performance, and the track was given the name "Allison's Uncle" because Nat Adderley's daughter was born on the day it was recorded. Further research has revealed that the mystery tune is a Hank Jones composition that the pianist recorded as "Bangoon" with the Gigi Gryce/Donald Byrd Jazz Lab quintet for an album on the Jubilee label in August 1957.