Nat Adderley (November 25, 1931 – January 2, 2000) was an American jazz trumpeter. He was the younger brother of saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, whom he remained very close to in his career but under whose shadow he lived for most of his life.
Adderley performing in Braunschweig in 1993
|Born||November 25, 1931
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
|Died||January 2, 2000 (aged 68)
Lakeland, Florida, U.S.
|Labels||Savoy, Wing, EmArcy, Riverside, Jazzland, Atlantic, Milestone|
|Associated acts||Cannonball Adderley, Johnny Griffin, Ron Carter, Sonny Fortune|
Nat Adderley was born in Tampa, Florida, but moved to Tallahassee when his parents were hired to teach at Florida A&M University. His father played trumpet professionally in his younger years, and he passed down his trumpet to Cannonball. When Cannonball picked up the alto saxophone, he passed the trumpet to Nat, who began playing in 1946. He and Cannonball played with Ray Charles in the early 1940s in Tallahassee and in amateur gigs around the area.
Adderley attended Florida University, majoring in sociology with a minor in music. He switched to cornet in 1950 and never turned back. From 1951–1953 he served in the army and played in the army band under his brother, taking at least one tour of Korea before returning to a station in the United States. After returning home, he attended Florida A&M intending to become a teacher.
Shortly before Adderley was expected to begin student teaching, Lionel Hampton played a concert at Florida A&M. Confident in his abilities, he played for Hampton, and Hampton invited him to join the band. Putting school on hold, he played under Hampton from 1954 to 1955, including a European tour. After returning, he intended to go back to school to become a teacher.
The turning point in both Nat and Cannonball's careers occurred on a trip to New York in 1955. The brothers stopped by the Café Bohemia in Greenwich Village when bassist Oscar Pettiford was playing. Both of them showed up ready to play, should the chance occur. Cannonball was asked to sit in as the regular saxophonist was out, and he overwhelmed the musicians. Then Nat was pulled on stage, and everyone was equally impressed . This single appearance was enough to renew their careers. Job offers began pouring in, and Nat recorded for the first time that year.
The brothers moved to New York City to pursue their careers, founding the bop group Cannonball Adderley Quintet in 1956. Due to lack of popular interest, they disbanded the group in 1957. Nat played for trombonist J. J. Johnson for a couple of years and ended up in the Woody Herman sextet. Cannonball rose to higher fame, joining the Miles Davis sextet alongside John Coltrane in time to record the album Kind of Blue.
In 1959 the Cannonball Adderley Quintet reunited for another attempt at popularity. This time around the group was more successful and had its first hit, "This Here", written by pianist Bobby Timmons.. The group's soulful jazz was a hit and became known as soul jazz starting the genre. The quintet also played hard bop, as everyone in the group had been influenced by bebop and wanted to continue a virtuosic tradition. Soul jazz kept the group popular, while hard bop gave the musicians a chance to challenge themselves and demonstrate their abilities.
During the 1960s, Adderley acted as cornetist, composer, and essentially as manager to the quintet. While he kept the band in order, he also composed some of the group's most successful songs. His most successful song was "Work Song" – a hard bop tune that is perhaps the most recognizable and widely played tune that he ever wrote. Nat himself suggested that it was his "Social Security song". "Work Song" is now considered a jazz standard, as are many of his other tunes, such as "Jive Samba", a song that grew to popularity due to an easily danceable rhythm and melody, "Hummin'", "Sermonnette", and "The Old Country". His tunes spanned both hard bop and soul jazz, which made him a very versatile, yet underrated and under-recognized, jazz composer.
While he was an integral part of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, this was not the only project occupying his time in his career as professional jazz musician. Since relocating to New York, he had been recording more than with the groups he was officially a member of. He was actually acting as leader on a large number of recordings during the time, including Work Song, the album that originated his hit tune. During these recordings, he worked with Kenny Clarke, Wes Montgomery, Walter Booker, who became a loyal musician to Nat in later years, and, of course, Cannonball.
Other projects that Nat was working on at the time include his work on the 1966 film A Man Called Adam. In the film, Sammy Davis Jr.'s character plays the trumpet. Since Davis could not play the trumpet in real life, Nat was hired to ghost everything that the character played. His other significant project during this time was a musical. Along with his brother, he wrote Shout Up a Morning, which is based on the tales of the folk hero John Henry. While this project started as a collaboration, work on the project was interrupted when Cannonball died very suddenly in 1975 from a stroke.
After Cannonball's death in 1975, the quintet broke up and the musicians mostly went their separate ways. Not having his brother working alongside him was a bit of a shock for Nat. The careers of these brothers were so heavily intertwined that it was difficult for to find a steady place for a while, so Nat started to work furiously. Immediately after the death, Nat started to travel around Europe as a headliner. Headlining was not a new experience for Nat; he had headlined many albums already, but he was never as big of a name as his brother. Nat took a quick tour of Japan, then came back to the United States and taught some courses at Harvard University, all the while performing and recording with his own quintet, including the loyal members Walter Booker and Jimmy Cobb who stayed with the group for a very extended time, as well as alto saxophonist Vincent Herring. In this way, Nat was finally able to establish his own name for himself and draw himself out of the wake of Cannonball. Other musicians that Nat worked with in his later years include Ron Carter, Sonny Fortune, Johnny Griffin, and Antonio Hart.
Eventually, Adderley came to create the Adderley Brotherhood, a sextet including several members of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet. This group toured Europe in 1980. Shout Up a Morning, after having a concert performance in Carnegie Hall shortly after Cannonball's death, was finally staged in several locations around the United States in 1986. Nat became involved in several other ensembles over the next decade, including the Paris Reunion Band and a group that labeled themselves the Riverside Reunion Band – they were a bop group that formed at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1993 and then toured Europe in 1994.
Adderley himself enjoyed touring internationally, especially in his older age. He would spend approximately half of his year touring, and the other half at home in Lakeland, Florida, to spend time writing and recording. As he traveled internationally, he noticed that people outside of the United States were much more receptive to jazz. He found that the greatest fans of jazz were in Japan, but Europeans were also enthusiastic about the music. This is why Nat liked touring so much, but touring is a tiresome endeavor. Nat struck a nice balance between travel and spending time domestically. For him, this was an ideal lifestyle.
In 1997, Nat joined the faculty of Florida Southern College as an artist-in-residence. He also helped in the founding and development of the annual Child of the Sun Jazz Festival held annually at the university, which he headlined for over a decade. The same year, he was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in Kansas City.
Nat Adderley died as a result of complications from diabetes at the age of 68 in Lakeland, Florida. He was interred near his brother in the Southside Cemetery in Tallahassee, Florida. He was an innovator in the popularization of soul jazz and was one of the most prolific jazz artists of his time, recording nearly 100 albums. He proved that cornet could be a modern jazz instrument.
Although Adderley started playing trumpet, he switched to the less common cornet. He preferred the darker tone of the conical cornet to the brighter sound of the cylindrical trumpet. He could produce a rich, earthy tone that became his signature, one that could only come from the cornet. He also enjoyed the cornet's historic quality, reinvigorating the instrument played by the founders of Dixieland jazz.
Adderley is widely attributed with the development and establishment of the 1960s style of soul jazz along with the rest of the members Cannonball Adderley Quintet. This style is characterized by simple harmonies, a heavy bluesy feel, catchy melodic riffs, and a presence of the church. The whole point of soul jazz was to bring back a simpler, more palatable and relatable type of jazz that had direct influence from blues and church music.
However, this is not the only style that Adderley wrote and played. The quintet was also widely known for their hard bop, which comprised roughly half of their recorded work. This is a much more rough and edgy style of jazz directly descended from bebop, and virtuosic abilities are required to be able to play the style well.
Therefore, as a soloist and composer, Adderley had a wide range of abilities. He could improvise simpler, more soulful solos for soul jazz numbers, but he could really experiment and show off all of his abilities for hard bop. Especially in playing hard bop, he was not afraid to use the range of the instrument, often playing below the typical cornet range for short bursts, before returning to the normal range. Although his range was starting to fade by the late 1960s, this did not keep him from continuing to play for the rest of his life.The fact that he could adapt to play any style of jazz says more about his capabilities than anything else, explaining why he is considered a prominent and innovative twentieth century jazz musician.
The Other Side sample
An audio sample of "The Other Side" from the 1966 album Sayin' Somethin'
With Cannonball Adderley
With Gene Ammons
With Kenny Burrell
With Charlie Byrd
With James Clay
With Victor Feldman
With Red Garland
With Johnny Griffin
With Louis Hayes
With Jimmy Heath
With Milt Jackson
With Budd Johnson
With J. J. Johnson
With Philly Joe Jones
With Sam Jones
With Quincy Jones
With Wynton Kelly
With King Curtis
With Oliver Nelson
With Sal Nistico
With Sonny Rollins
With A. K. Salim
With Don Wilkerson
With Joe Williams
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When the trolley tour proceeds, Mr. Knight points out the nearby Dorie Miller Houses, a co-op apartment complex in Corona where Clark Terry and Cannonball and Nat Adderley lived and where saxophonist Jimmy Heath still resides.