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Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley Biography

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Julian Edwin "Cannonball" Adderley (September 15, 1928 - August 8, 1975), originally from Tampa, Florida, was a jazz alto saxophonist of the small combo era of the 1950s and 1960s.

Cannonball was a local legend in Florida until he moved to New York in 1955. He joined the Miles Davis sextet in 1957, around the time that John Coltrane left the band to join Thelonious Monk's group, which Coltrane would return from in 1958. Adderley played on the seminal Davis records, Milestones and Kind of Blue. Davis had this to say of Adderley's style, "He had a certain spirit. You couldn't put your finger on it, but it was there in his playing every night".

The Cannonball Adderley Quintet featured Cannonball on alto sax and his brother Nat Adderley on cornet. Adderley's first quintet was not very successful. However, after leaving Davis' group, he reformed another, again with his brother, which enjoyed more success. The Quintet (which later became the Sextet) and Cannonball's other combos and groups included such noted musicians as pianists Bobby Timmons, Victor Feldman and Joe Zawinul (later of Weather Report), bassist Sam Jones, drummer Louis Hayes and saxophonists Charles Lloyd and Yusef Lateef. The group was noteworthy towards the end of the 1960's for achieving crossover success with pop audiences, without making artistic concessions.

The nickname "Cannonball" was a butchered version of "cannibal", a childhood nickname for the portly saxophonist. An articulate speaker with an easy manner, Cannonball educated, amused, and informed his audiences in clubs and on television about the art and moods of jazz (he was a music teacher before beginning his jazz career). His professional career was long established prior to teaching applied instrumental music classes at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. By the end of 1960s, Adderley's playing began to reflect the influence of the electric jazz avant-garde, and Miles Davis' experiments on Bitches Brew. On his albums from this period, such as The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free he began doubling on soprano saxophone, showing the influence of John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. Joe Zawinul left his band in the early seventies to be replaced by George Duke.

Adderley died of a stroke in 1975. He was buried in the Southside Cemetery, Tallahassee, Florida. Joe Zawinul's composition "Cannon Ball" (recorded on Weather Report's album Black Market) is a tribute to his former employer.

Songs made famous by Adderley and his bands include 'This Here' (written by Bobby Timmons), 'The Jive Samba', 'Work Song' (written by Nat Adderley) and 'Mercy, Mercy, Mercy' (written by Joe Zawinul).

Adderley was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans (made Beta Nu chapter, Florida A&M University). [1]

Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones named both of his sons Julian, allegedly in honor of Adderley.
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