Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I wonder also whether a bit more light-heartedness and progressivity wouldn’t help to attract new listeners to the tattered remnants of today’s jazz scene, and it is precisely at times like these that my mind wanders to (alcohol. And) figures like Cannonball Adderley.
Julian “Cannonball” Adderley (the name Cannonball was a corruption of a childhood moniker, Cannibal. Because he was fat. Fat people eat a lot. Get it?) was born in Tampa, Florida, in 1928, and grew up studying alto saxophone under his father, a trumpet player and high school music director. Cannonball initially followed in his father’s footsteps, teaching at the Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, but soon found himself in New York, where his innovative brand of soulful playing made him an instant hit among musicians and jazz fans alike. In addition to being a remarkably skilled player, Cannonball was also one of jazz’ most publicly beloved personalities. His hard-grooving, soulful compositions won him many admirers, but just as many were drawn by his amiable, easy-going character—a holdover from his days as a teacher; in fact, many fans attended Cannonball’s live performances simply to hear his charmingly discursive and didactic pre-set rap sessions, like this one, an intro (from a separate recording) to the track following it, Jive Samba.
Though Cannon may be most widely known for his work with Miles Davis’ famous late-fifties sextet (Kind of Blue), the three videos posted here are taken from the early sixties, when Cannon was leading his own sextet, featuring, among others, a young Joe Zawinul (who would later go on to found Weather Report) on piano. The sextet achieved great success for a jazz group, and continued in various iterations (finally as a quintet) up until Cannonball’s death.
Cannonball Adderley died in 1975 after suffering a stroke. He was a consummate musician and spokesperson for America’s only original art form, and his loss is still felt today.