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Cannonball Adderley

cannonballJulian Edwin "Cannonball" Adderley (September 15, 1928 – August 8, 1975), was a jazz alto saxophonist of the small combo era of the 1950s and 1960s. Originally from Tampa, Florida, he moved to New York in the mid 1950's.

The nickname "Cannonball" was a childhood nickname for the portly saxophonist, a corruption of "cannibal". An articulate speaker with an easy manner, Cannonball educated, amused, and informed his audiences in clubs and on television about the art and moods of jazz (he was a music teacher before beginning his jazz career).

An educator and a saxophonist

His educational career was long established prior to teaching applied instrumental music classes at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Cannonball was a local legend in Florida until he moved to New York City in 1955.

He joined the Miles Davis sextet in 1957, around the time that John Coltrane left the group to join Thelonious Monk's band. (Coltrane would return to Davis's group in 1958). Adderley played on the seminal Davis records Milestones and Kind of Blue. Davis had this to say of Adderley's style: "He had a certain spirit. You couldn't put your finger on it, but it was there in his playing every night." This period also overlapped with pianist Bill Evans's time with the sextet, an association that led to recording Portrait of Cannonball and Know What I Mean?cannonball

A band leader

The Cannonball Adderley Quintet featured Cannonball on alto sax and his brother Nat Adderley on cornet. Adderley's first quintet was not very successful. However, after leaving Davis' group, he reformed another, again with his brother, which enjoyed more success.

The new quintet (which later became the Cannonball Adderley Sextet), and Cannonball's other combos and groups, included such noted musicians as:

Cannonball Adderley

* pianists Bobby Timmons, Victor Feldman, Joe Zawinul (later of Weather Report), and George Duke

* bassists Sam Jones, Walter Booker and Victor Gaskin
* drummers Louis Hayes and Roy McCurdy
* saxophonists Charles Lloyd and Yusef Lateef.

The sextet was noteworthy towards the end of the 1960s for achieving crossover success with pop audiences, but doing it without making artistic concessions.

Avant-garde movement

By the end of 1960s, Adderley's playing began to reflect the influence of the electric jazz avant-garde, and Miles Davis' experiments on the radical album Bitches Brew. On his albums from this period, such as The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free (1970), he began doubling on soprano saxophone, showing the influence of John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter.

Adderley died of a stroke in 1975. He was buried in the Southside Cemetery, Tallahassee, Florida. Joe Zawinul's composition "Cannon Ball" (recorded on Weather Report's album Black Market) is a tribute to his former leader.Cannonball Adderley
Songs made famous by Adderley and his bands include 'This Here' (written by Bobby Timmons), 'The Jive Samba', 'Work Song' (written by Nat Adderley), 'Mercy, Mercy, Mercy' (written by Joe Zawinul) and 'Walk Tall' (written by Zawinul, Marrow and Rein). A cover version of Roebuck Staples' 'Why (Am I Treated So Bad)?' also entered the charts.
Adderley was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America Incorporated (Xi Omega, Frostburg State University, '70), the largest and oldest secret society in music and Alpha Phi Alpha, the oldest existing intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans (made Beta Nu chapter, Florida A&M University).

Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones named both of his sons Julian, allegedly in honor of Adderley.

Selected discography   

As a leader

* Julian Cannonball Adderley and Strings (1955)
* Jump For Joy (1957)
* Portrait of Cannonball (1958)
* Somethin' Else (1958) - with Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Sam Jones, Art Blakey
* Things Are Getting Better (1958)
* Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago (1959) - with John Coltrane
* Quintet in San Francisco (1959)
* Cannonball and Coltrane (1959)
* At the Lighthouse (1960)
* Them Dirty Blues (1960)
* Know What I Mean? (1961) - with Bill Evans
* African Waltz (1961)
* The Quintet Plus (1961)
* Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley (1961)
* In New York (1962)
* Cannonball's Bossa Nova (1962)
* Jazz Workshop Revisited (1963)
* Nippon Soul (1963)
* Fiddler on the Roof (1964)
* Domination (1965) - Orchestrated and arranged by Oliver Nelson
* Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at 'The Club' (1966)
* Cannonball in Japan (1966)
* Why Am I Treated So Bad! (1967)
* 74 Miles Away (1967)
* Radio Nights (1967)
* Accent On Africa (1968)
* Country Preacher (1969)
* The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free (1970)
* The Black Messiah (Live) (1972)
* Inside Straight (1973)
* Pyramid (1974)
* Phenix (1975)
* Big Man (1975) (Musical with Joe Williams and Randy Crawford)

Cannonball Adderley with Miles Davis

* Milestones (1958)
* Miles & Monk at Newport (1958) (Monk performance is separate from Davis and Adderley performance)
* Jazz at the Plaza (1958)
* Porgy and Bess (1958)
* Kind of Blue (1959)

as a producer

* Wide Open Spaces (1960) - David Newman
* A Portrait of Thelonious (1961) - Bud Powell
* Don Byas & Bud Powell - Tribute To Cannonball (1961)


* 1967 Grammy Award, Best Instrumental Jazz Performance, Small Group or Soloist with Small Group for "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at 'The Club'" by Cannonball Adderley Quintet

Cannonball Adderley

Biography    by Scott Yanowcannonball adderley

One of the great alto saxophonists, Cannonball Adderley had an exuberant and happy sound (as opposed to many of the more serious stylists of his generation) that communicated immediately to listeners. His intelligent presentation of his music (often explaining what he and his musicians were going to play) helped make him one of the most popular of all jazzmen.

Adderley already had an established career as a high school band director in Florida when, during a 1955 visit to New York, he was persuaded to sit in with Oscar Pettiford's group at the Cafe Bohemia. His playing created such a sensation that he was soon signed to Savoy and persuaded to play jazz full-time in New York. With his younger brother, cornetist Nat, Cannonball formed a quintet that struggled until its breakup in 1957. Adderley then joined Miles Davis, forming part of his super sextet with John Coltrane and participating on such classic recordings as Milestones and Kind of Blue. Adderley's second attempt to form a quintet with his brother was much more successful for, in 1959, with pianist Bobby Timmons, he had a hit recording of "This Here." From then on, Cannonball always was able to work steadily with his band.cannonball

During its Riverside years (1959-1963), the Adderley Quintet primarily played soulful renditions of hard bop and Cannonball really excelled in the straight-ahead settings. During 1962-1963, Yusef Lateef made the group a sextet and pianist Joe Zawinul was an important new member. The collapse of Riverside resulted in Adderley signing with Capitol and his recordings became gradually more commercial. Charles Lloyd was in Lateef's place for a year (with less success) and then with his departure the group went back to being a quintet. Zawinul's 1966 composition "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" was a huge hit for the group, Adderley started doubling on soprano, and the quintet's later recordings emphasized long melody statements, funky rhythms, and electronics. However, during his last year, Cannonball Adderley was revisiting the past a bit and on Phenix he recorded new versions of many of his earlier numbers. But before he could evolve his music any further, Cannonball Adderley died suddenly from a stroke.