Julian Adderley was born on September 15, 1928 in Tampa, Fl. He was fortunate to grow up in a musical family along with his little brother Nat, a jazz trumpeter, who he played with throughout his life. He was given his nickname Cannonball in high school, for his well known appetite. Cannonball studied music in various places in his life including school in Tallahassee. While living in Tallahassee in the early 1940s, Cannonball and Nat played with Ray Charles who was also living there at the time. His early influences on the saxophone included Bird, Benny Carter and Louie Jordan
In 1950, he was drafted into the U.S Army and was the leader of the 36th Army Dance Band, as well as leading his own band while studying music at the U.S. Naval Academy and then led an army band while stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Before heading to the New York scene, Adderley was teaching at a high school in Tallahassee; of course the band director. As it goes, he originally was just visiting New York and took his saxophone with him to an Oscar Pettiford show out of fear it might be stolen if left behind. Pettiford needed a sax player that night and Cannonball sat in with his band. Oscar convinced him to stay in New York after that night and they were calling him the ‘New Bird’.
In 1956 he started his first band with his brother Nat as well as Junior Mance and Sam Jones. This one was not so successful but it led to greater things as Miles Davis asked him to join his band. During this time Cannonball recorded on the legendary jazz album “Kind of Blue” and Miles returned the favor, recording on Cannonball’s album “Something Else”.
In 1959, Cannonball formed his own group again but this time had great success. The group included his brother Nat, Joe Zawinul, Sam Jones, Yusef Latif and Louis Hayes. They toured and recorded many albums together all over the world, spreading their brand of hard bop mixed with deep, soulful blues and gospel. While on tour Cannonball suffered a stroke and died on August 8th, 1975.
“Hipness isn’t a state of mind; it’s a fact of life.” - Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley