Julian “Cannonball” Adderley

I’ve recently had Cannonball Adderley’s work on heavy rotation, especially his recordings and videos of performances from 1959 to 1963, which was a period of artistic change and growth.

Seems like he was a great guy with an academic background. Before he and his brother Nat went to New York City to “make it big” on the jazz scene, he was a music teacher in Florida.

Julian was part of Miles Davis’ ensembles in the late 1950’s, appearing on classic albums of that stage of Davis’ career.

My concentration is right after that, when Julian started a famous quintet: himself, his brother Nat, Sam Jones, Louis Hayes, and one of three pianists, either Victor Feldman or Joe Zawinul or Bobby Timmons.

From a 1959 album recorded in San Francisco, to a 1960 album recorded at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, to a 1961 appearance on “Jazz Casual,” (ever the educator) to a live recording at the Village Vanguard in New York City in 1962 to a video in 1963 when the quintet had expanded with Yusef Lateef, and continued its artistic growth.

The video is actually two performances. My viewing recommendation is: watch the opening of the video, the first song, and then skip to 1:11:35 where the second performance begins, and features the same unit, assembled differently, and the same opening song (“Jessica’s Birthday” by Quincy Jones.) From there you’re on your own. I’ve watched the video all the way through as well as six ways to Sunday. You can focus on individual players—every member of the sextet has their own personal legendary status in the jazz world—and then to have them together as one unit here: you can’t go wrong.

© 2020 Randy Stark

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