Julian Edwin “Cannonball” Adderley, a legendary alto saxophonist, was born in Tampa, FL on Sept. 15, 1928. The nickname “Cannonball” came to him early on in his childhood and referred to his portly stature. He will always be known for amusing and educational rapport with his audience, often-times explaining what he and his musicians were about to play.
His studied music in Tallahassee Fl (1944-48) before taking a position as high school band director in Fort Lauderdale following in the footsteps of his father who was also an educator and trumpet player. He became a local legend with his high school band and as live performer in and around Florida prior to moving to New York City in 1955 where he initially planned to pursue graduate studies.
He made his mark quickly performing in and around NYYC with his style and stage persona as several critics christened him “the new Bird.” He applied his fame to his first quintet pulling his brother Nat Adderley in on cornet. Around the time John Coltrane left Miles Davis’s band to play with Thelonious Monk, Adderley stepped in. Playing on the seminal “Kind Of Blue” and “Milestones”, he left a deep impression on Davis and his sextet.
Around the fall of 1959, Adderly left Davis’s band and reunited with his brother to reform the Cannonball Adderly quintet. Through 1963, also known as the Riverside years, the Quintet focused on playing soulful renditions of hard-bop and their live performances were wildly successful. With the addition of Yusef Lateef on saxophone, the band swelled to a sextet and began interpreting a lot of crossover material that included soul and funk. Adderly’s willingness to experiment with other genres, coupled with signing with Capital records, won the band a far-reaching commercial audience.
The late 60’s saw Adderly expand even further with the addition of electronics, African rhythms, and the heavy influence of Miles Davis’s avant-garde experimentation. This period also saw him step into the roll of a jazz spokesman. Whether it was television, residencies at several colleges, or film appearances, Adderly’s boisterous nature always served to win new fans without compromising his established admirers.
Adderly, once again, had begun to evolve his sound in the early 70’s by experimenting with doubling his alto saxophone and delving further into funk rhythms but was cut short when he passed away suddenly from a stroke in 1975. His body of work and charm would be noteworthy separately but Cannonball Adderly excelled at both leaving an indelible mark on jazz in the second half of the 20th century.
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
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco (1959)
Cannonball and Coltrane (1959)
At the Lighthouse (1960)
Them Dirty Blues (1960)
What Is This Thing Called Soul? (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)
Dizzy’s Business (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)
Love, Sex, And The Zodiac (1974)
Big Man (1975) (Musical with Joe Williams and Randy Crawford)
With Miles Davis:
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)