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Sat, 09.15.1928

Cannonball Adderly was a “Hard Bop” jazz great

Cannonball Adderly

*On this date in 1928, Julian Edwin "Cannonball" Adderly was born. He was an African American 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, Adderly 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, Adderly 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.

Adderly 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. Adderly led his own band, which broke up when he was invited to join the Miles Davis Quintet in 1957. For two years, Adderly recorded some of his best work on the landmark Davis albums Milestones and Kind of Blue within this sextet. Cannonball left the Davis band to reform his quintet in 1959, this time with his brother, Sam Jones, pianist Bobby Timmons and drummer Louis Hayes. Adderly recorded for Riverside, for Capitol and then for Fantasy records.

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 Adderly 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" Adderly was one of the progenitors of the swinging, music that became known as hard-bop. Adderly added a funky vocabulary of gospel and blues to the style of jazz, America's classic music.

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

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