Julian "Cannonball" Adderley - alto sax
Nat Adderley - cornet
Barry Harris - piano
Sam Jones - bass
Louis Hayes - drums
A powerful alto saxophonist, composer, bandleader, and raconteur, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley moved to New York from his hometown of Fort Lauderdale in 1955, shortly after the death of Charlie Parker and made an immediate impact on the scene. His place in jazz history was secured by his participation in Miles Davis' historic Kind of Blue sessions from 1959, and he went on to lead his own popular soul-jazz quintet through the '60s and into the '70s.
Adderley's set on June 30th at Newport directly followed his guest appearance with Marshall Brown's Newport Youth Band. During Willis Connover's band introductions to their set, Adderley can be heard spontaneously heaping praise on the young 16-year-old saxophonist Andy Marsala from that aggregation of up-and-comers. Connover is also quick to point out Cannonball's recent nomination as Alto Saxophonist of the Year in the 1960 Down Beat critic's poll, while also acknowledging bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes as New Star winners in their respective instrumental categories.
The quintet comes out of the gate charging hard on their Newport set-opener, Sam Jones' effervescently swinging "Del Sasser," which is characterized by tight two-horn harmony work on the frontline by Adderley and his cornet-playing younger brother Nat. Cannonball's solo here is positively blistering, full of soulful, blues-tinged testifying and a kind of steamrolling momentum that typified his quintessential hard bop style. Brother Nat follows with some exhilarating high note work on cornet before the great Detroit bop pianist Barry Harris enters with a potent solo of his own while the hard bop rhythm tandem of Hayes and Jones keeps the pots boiling with their incendiary support underneath.
Next up is Nat's "Work Song," a dramatic number inspired by his childhood memories of seeing chain gangs bashing rocks along the roadside nearby where he and Cannonball grew up in Florida. The title track of Nat's own solo album that had come out earlier that year, "Work Song," is a hard bop anthem that stands alongside Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'" and Horace Silver's "The Preacher" for sheer soulfulness, and it's one that has been covered by countless artists over the years. Cannonball digs in here with gusto on his potent alto solo while Nat responds with a searing high note cornet solo on top of the mid-tempo swing pulse as brother Julian shouts out encouragements like, "Yeah, baby!" and "Give it to me!" and "Uh-huh, that's right!" Harris' stellar piano solo is harmonically probing within the fabric of this swinging piece. They conclude their set with a Tadd Dameron composition written for the Dizzy Gillespie big band of the 1940s called "Stay On It." The close interaction between alto and cornet on this fast-paced romp is near-telepathic as the brothers deliver an indelibly tight, sizzling reading of this bop-era gem that is fueled by Hayes' inimitable swing feel on the kit.
Born on September 15, 1928, in Tampa, Florida, Julian Adderley was teaching music classes at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale before he made the jazzman's pilgrimage to New York City in 1955. He first drew attention from the jazz cognoscenti in town after sitting in at the Café Bohemia with bassist Oscar Pettiford's band, and soon word spread about this big alto burner from Florida who had just hit town. The brothers Adderley made their recording debut on a June 26, 1955 Kenny Clarke session for Savoy entitled Bohemia After Dark. Word of Cannonball's mighty prowess on the alto sax eventually traveled to Miles Davis, who hired him in October, 1957, for his sextet, which would eventually include tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Together they recorded the 1959 jazz classic Kind of Blue, which 50 years later continues to outsell most other jazz albums on the market and to date has sold an astonishing four million copies. Adderley's only Blue Note outing as a leader, 1958's Somethin' Else, is also considered a jazz classic.
Following his stint with Miles, Cannonball formed his own quintet with brother Nat in 1959 and subsequently won over audiences with such successful soul-jazz crossover recordings as 1960's Dem Dirty Blues, 1961's Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley, and especially 1966's Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (whose wildly popular title track was written by his then pianist, Austrian émigré Josef Zawinul). He stuck a big toe into the fusion pool in 1967 on Zawinul's adventurous composition "74 Miles Away," which presaged his later work with Weather Report. Adderley died of a stroke on August 8, 1975, while on tour and later that year was inducted into the Down Beat Hall of Fame. Zawinul later composed the poignant ballad "Cannonball" (which appeared on Weather Report's 1976 album Black Market) as a tribute to his former leader. Younger brother Nat (born on November 25, 1931) continued to lead bands and record for a number of labels prior to his death on January 2, 2000. (Milkowski)