"Mercy Mercy Mercy" is a great tune, but it was a surprise mainstream hit. It was written and originally recorded in 1966 and had reached #11 on the Billboard charts by 1967. Later it was covered by The Buckinghams and the Mauds, and was on the charts again.

Written by the influential keyboardist and composer Joe Zawinul, who gained traction in the Adderley quintet before playing with Miles Davis and Weather Report, the chart is catchy because of its laid back 20-bar structure and repeated chorus. Nat Adderley is on cornet, Victor Gaskin is on bass, Roy McCurdy is on drums, Zawinul alternates between piano and Wurlitzer, and Cannonball is of course on alto sax.


This original recording was supposedly taped in the Club DeLisa in Chicago, but the band was just trying to give the owner of the DeLisa some free publicity because he was a friend. It was actually recorded in Capitol's Hollywood studio. The audience was invited and there was apparently an open bar. I love this chart because it's mellow, but also hits hard, and it even has life advice baked right in. [Amazon, iTunes, Spotify]