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Sat, 09.15.1928

Cannonball Adderley was a “Hard Bop” jazz great

Cannonball Adderly

*On this date in 1928, Julian Edwin "Cannonball" Adderley was born. He was a Black jazz musician, band leader, and composer.

Originally nicknamed "Cannonball" in high school for his large appetite, the nickname mutated into "Cannonball" and stuck. From a musical family in Florida, Adderley was drafted into the U. S. Army in 1950. He became leader of the 36th Army Dance Band, led his own band while studying music at the U. S. Naval Academy and then led an army band while stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In 1955, Adderley sat in on a club date with bassist Oscar Pettiford and created such a fervor that he was signed almost immediately to a recording contract.

Adderley became a seminal influence on the hard-driving style known as hard-bop, and could swing ferociously at faster tempos, yet he was also an effective and soulful ballad stylist. Adderley led his own band, which broke up when he was invited to join the Miles Davis Quintet in 1957.  For two years, Adderley recorded some of his best work on the landmark Davis albums Milestones and Kind of Blue within this sextet. Adderley left the Davis band to reform his quintet in 1959, this time with his brother Nat, Sam Jones, pianist Bobby Timmons and drummer Louis Hayes.  Adderley recorded for Riverside, for Capitol and then for Fantasy records.

Adderley added a funky vocabulary of gospel and blues to the style of jazz, America's classic music.  He suffered a stroke while on tour and died in August, 1975. During the period when the growing development of polyrhythms and polytonality threatened to make jazz harder for non-musicians to appreciate, the Cannonball Adderley bands helped preserve the music’s roots in a more readily understood sense. Both as the leader of his own bands as well as an alto and soprano saxophone stylist, "Cannonball" Adderley was one of the progenitors of the swinging, music that became known as hard-bop.

A Century of Jazz by Roy Carr
Da Capo Press, New York
Copyright 1997
ISBN 0-306-80778-5

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