Julian "Cannonball" Adderley

1928 - 1975

alto saxophone

Julian "Cannonball" Adderley (1928-75) was a high school band director in his native Florida, before moving to New York in 1955. After sitting in with Oscar Pettiford’s band at the Café Bohemia, the alto saxophonist became an instant sensation. Despite misguided promotional efforts to christen him as the new Charlie Parker, Adderley clearly had his own approach to the horn, which drew on the inspiration of Benny Carter as well as Parker. His first quintet, which featured his younger brother Nat Adderley on cornet, drew the attention of Miles Davis, who featured the alto saxophonist in the immortal Miles Davis sextet (alongside John Coltrane and either Red Garland, Bill Evans, or Wynton Kelly) for two years beginning in late 1957: With Miles Davis' Quintet, Adeerly found world fame. His name graces the cover of some of the greatest Jazz albums ever recorded such as Kind of Blue and Milestones. Adderley is also one of the few artists who managed to persuade Miles Davis to appear as a side man on one of thier own recordings. The classic Somethin'else features Miles as well as Art Blakey and Hank Jones. In September 1959, Cannonball left Davis and reunited with Nat in a new Cannonball Adderley quintet. Recorded live one month later at San Francisco's Jazz Workshop, the band became an immediate success with their version of Bobby Timmons's sanctified waltz "This Here" and a leading practitioner of what came to be called soul jazz. Numerous other hits followed over the next 16 years as the band occasionally swelled to sextet size (with the inclusion of Yusef Lateef or Charles Lloyd) and featured such important pianist/composers as Barry Harris, Victor Feldman, Joe Zawinul, George Duke, and Hal Galpet: Sam Jones and Louis Hayes formed the original rhythm section. At the heart of the group's success throughout its existence were Cannonball's impassioned alto (and, later; soprano) saxophone and Nat's infectious compositions (including "Work Song" and 'Jive Samba').

While a knack for interpreting funky crossover material such as Zawinul's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" won the Adderley quintet one of the jazz world's largest audiences, Cannonball's personality also played a pivotal role in sustaining the band's prominence among fans worldwide. He was the most articulate and engaging of musicians, and he invariably educated his listeners with wry commentary. He was also a voracious listener and talent scout who introduced several prominent musicians through both employing them in his ensemble. Cannonball was the one who called Wes Montgomery to the attention of Riverside Records, produced the debut recording of Chuck Mangione, and collaborated so brilliantly with a young Nancy Wilson.
Adderley also served as a prominent spokesperson for jazz through extensive television work and residencies at several universities. Shortly before his death following a stroke, he had recorded his original music for "Big Man," a folk musical based upon the life of John Henry.


Videos, Books and DVDs

Cannonball Adderley's Page on emusic
Recommended recordings
or download with

Somethin'else Blue Note 46338  
Somethin' Else
Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco  OJC 035-2  
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco
Know what I mean OJC 105-2  
Know What I Mean?
Mercy Mercy Mercy Capitol Jazz 29915  
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
Nippon Soul OJC 435-2  
Nippon Soul
Things are Getting Better OJC  
Things Are Getting Better
The Cannonball Adderley Sextet in New York OJC 142-2  
In New York
Portrait of Cannonball OJC 361-2  
Portrait of Cannonball
Plus OJC 306-2  
African Waltz OJC  
African Waltz
Alabama Concerto OJC  
John Benson Brooks' Alabama Concerto
Country Preacher Capitol Jazz  
Country Preacher - "Live" at Operation Breadbasket
Best of the Capitol Years Capitol Jazz
Dizzy's Business Fantasy Milestone
Four Jazz Legends Live at Newport '60 Vanguard Classics
Greatest Hits EMI Capitol
Greatest Hits Milestone
In Chicago (Live) Verve
In New York OJC
Pyramid OJC
Inside Straight OJC
Paris 1960 (Live) Fantsay Pablo
And the Poll Winners Capitl Jazz
Presenting Cannonball plus 6 WEA/ Capitol
Just Friends Le Jazz UK
Them Dirty Blues Blue Note
Live in Japan Blue Note
Ultimate Cannonbal Adderley Verve
What is This Thing Called Soul OJC
Sophisticated Swing Verve