Cannonball Adderley

Cannonball Adderley

Alto Saxophone
September 15, 1928 -- August 8, 1975

Cannonball Adderley

"He had a certain spirit. You couldn't put your finger on it, but it was there in his playing every night."

--Miles Davis

Julian Adderley. The nickname "Cannonball" was a childhood corruption of "cannibal," describing his large appetite. He played alto saxophone in Florida bands from around 1942 and directed a high-school band in Fort Lauderdale for more than two years from September 1948. After serving in army bands from 1950 to 1953 he resumed teaching until 1955.

He then moved to New York, intending to play with his brother, Nat, and to begin graduate studies at New York University. Instead, a chance jam session led to his joining Oscar Pettiford's band and signing a recording contract.

The Adderley brothers formed a promising quintet in january 1956, but in September the following year the group was forced to disband because of financial difficulties. Adderley then replaced Sonny Rollins in the Miles Davis Quintet in October 1957. He stayed in Davis's famous sextets, playing with John Coltrane, until September 1959, when he formed a second quintet with his brother. This group, which played soul jazz and bop, remained intact until 1975, achieving considerable success.

A masterful, confident improviser, Adderley was called "the new Bird" because his debut in 1955 occurred shortly after Charlie Parker's death. This unfortunate label caused resentment among the press and public, and set him unattainable standards.

Although he at times imitated Parker (as did all bop alto saxophonists), his first bop recordings reveal more chromatic and continuous lines and a more cutting tone than Parker's. On other recordings he played and composed in a simple blues- and gospel-oriented style. "Cherokee" [mp3] with Bud Powell & Don Byas from 1961.

--BARRY KERNFELD, The New Grove Dictionary Of Jazz

A selected discography of Cannonball Adderley albums.

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