Doc Stewart - Cannonball Adderley Historian, Jazz Saxophone Artist, Physician, Carpenter, & Surfer
A Composite Autobiography of
Julian Edwin "Cannonball" Adderley
September 15, 1928 - August 8, 1975To provide a sketch of this colorful, articulate jazzman, here are a number of excerpts from interviews with Julian reassembled in chronological order. Also included are essential comments from Nat Adderley pertaining to Julian's youth and New York City debut. These interviews are extracted from a number periodicals referenced in the Bibliography.
Table of Contents
Full Legal Name: Julian Edwin Adderley
Date of Birth: September 1, 1928
Born: Tampa, Florida (9)
It may sound ridiculous, but when I was about three years old – my dad was a jazz musician at the time – I had no idea what that meant or what it was about – I’d never heard him play, and the horn didn't mean anything to me other than the normal curiosity that a kid would have about an instrument, but we got a radio, and it was the first one in the neighborhood. During that time the bands used to broadcast directly from the Cotton Club in New York in 1931, you see, and I used to hear Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington…
Three years old. Once Cab Calloway was broadcasting, and I was very fond of staying up late at night too, listening to these broadcasts. I didn’t know what I was listening to, but it was something interesting, and a tube blew out, and I cried and cried, and my parents couldn’t understand why I was crying so much about it, so they got a tube the next day, and I would never listen to anything but the music, really. They’d have other programs at the time – a lot of comedy on radio, but nothing but music got to me, and so I became fond of listening to music as a three-year-old, and by the time I was in school and so forth, I started taking piano lessons in second grade or something like that. (12)
Well I didn't stick with piano at all. I couldn’t stand the piano lessons, because the piano teacher was a pervert. (12)
When we hardly knew how to read, we knew how to sing. We would sing for company and all like that. Pop would go get us just as proudly, “Come on, boys! Sing WPA!” So you know how long that’s been.
That’s right. I had a scrapbook with the Mills Brothers in it. I had their autographs, because they visited our town when I was… You don’t remember, do you Nat? (8)
And like the church thing - We were Episcopalians, but we’d go down on the corner on Sunday night and listen to them get into it. Tabernacle Baptist Church. Sunday night after church they’d have a fish fry. We’d go down there to get some of that fish. They’d be inside poppin’ – Hey! Jumb! Hey! Jumb! Be swinging. And we’d dig it. We’d be outside dancing and carrying on. We didn’t consider it sacrilegious. (5)
I was collecting records when I was eight years old. I spent some of my allowance to buy a 37-cent record, and my dad thought that really meant something. That’s when he decided to buy my horn for me. (12)
I used to collect records by all the great bands. I had records by Chick Webb, by [Andy] Kirk, by Lucky Millinder… and when Basie put out early records, I had these because I thought Basie had something else to say… And I noticed, even then, that Basie was less the show commercial type band than some of the others that I really dug, including bands like Earl Hines, ‘cause Earl Hines had a vocal group in his band. I dug what he was doing, I dug the band an awful lot singing and so forth. I love Ella [Fitzgerald], but when Chick Webb’s band played the things that Ella did, “A Tisket-A Tasket,” I couldn’t stand it. The instrumental things I dug. So, even then, I knew what I wanted to hear from the bands. (12)
John Kirby was the first small band I remember. There were no small bands when I was a kid – during the ‘30s. The Benny Goodman small band. I would have loved to play with such a thing, but it didn’t mean the same thing as the Kirby band, because that was a total picture, that was really a little band.
By the time Louis Jordan became nationally prominent, I was playing. You see, I was talking about a kid’s dreams when I talked about John Kirby. I wasn’t a musician at the time, I was trying to learn to play trumpet. Louis Jordan was something else entirely. It was – what would you call it? – commercial, in a way. It didn’t mean the same thing to me that the jazz thing did. And I never really dug Louis as a sax player. I dig him more now than I did then. (7)
They got me a trumpet when I was in fifth grade, and I started out immediately trying to play jazz.
You know when all kids wanted to be sheriffs, and cops and robbers? Well, I wanted to be a jazz musician. (8)
I played the trumpet for about a year and developed into a pretty good little player – playing simple things – but I never had much range. And then I got big enough to play football with the boys, and I put the trumpet under the bed, and it stayed there for about three or four years. (8)
Nat was 9 and I was 12 when we began to play together. (11)
Nat Adderley: Lonnie Hayes, the drummer of the first group in which we played, gave him the nickname Cannibal, because he ate so much. But without education, most of the people in our hometown, Tampa, didn’t know what a cannibal was and transformed the nickname to Cannonball. (11)
Julian: What happened was, we started a school band, and I was the leader. (12)
Nat: When we began, we were part of a group in which I was the singer. I was 8 or 9 years old and had a soprano voice. I sang for tips, and I made more money than the group! That provoked some fuss with the musicians, and I left the group. My brother left with me, because he is my brother, and also because he was responsible for me, being older. But, after a while, we returned to the group because, without us, it wasn’t worth anything, and I became the leader Julian worked for me. He looked after the music, and I sang, but I shared my money with him! That lasted 4 years! And then my voice changed, and I began to play trumpet. (11)
Julian: Yeah, I was the trumpet player. I was the leader of a cult, because I was the only guy in my set who ever had any instrumental musical experience, and I used to show off, more or less. Then another guy who started playing trumpet could play higher notes than I could, and I sued to try and get to where he was going, and it didn’t work out. So, a friend of mine had a saxophone that I sued to fool around with sometimes, and I found out that I could play scales and so forth on it, and I decided to make a switch. But trumpet was, even then, still my first love. (12)
I ought to confess that I suffered with my trumpet: My lips! No matter what, after each lesson, I was bleeding! Finally, I couldn’t stand to even look at that instrument of torture any longer, and as I secretly adored the saxophone, on which I knew that problem would not be encountered, my father let me go. In 1941, I left the pleasures of the trumpet to my little brother Nat, who has not managed badly since then! (16)
I started playing alto about 1942. (12)
Nat: As soon as he learned to play it, he joined a band in Florida, but before he let on about it at home, he taught me how to play trumpet, so that the old man wouldn’t be disappointed.
Of course, at that time, it was right after the start of the Second World War, musicians were making a lot of money. And the both of us were working, even though we were just kids. That took a big financial load off him. That probably made the disappointment less too.
Meanwhile, Julian was trying hard to make me into a musician. I thought that reading music was a drag. We had a band where there really wasn’t any music, because nobody but Julian could read. I thought that the way to do it was to hear what was happening and then just sit down and play it by ear. So Julian decided that I had to learn and, when I fought it, he went to the old man and said, “Pop, I taught Nat to play the trumpet, but he refuses to read music.” That was that. I learned. (5)
Julian: My first influences were Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, the little I’d heard of him, and Jimmy Dorsey, but the tenor players used to be more effective to me, and those men were all giants.
Here’s what’s wrong to me. The alto would seem to have to be played a certain way, and I didn’t understand why it had to be played that way. Why do you have to confine yourself to playing pretty on the alto? Why can’t you play gutty and swing like the tenor players were doing, ‘cause I was very fond of Ben Webster, Chu Berry, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Don Byas - everybody I knew practically. There was a tenor player with Andy Kirk who was rally a bitch, a guy named…
Dick Wilson, yeah. I never really dug Herschel (Evans) too much. He never got to me. I used to love Illinois Jacquet. The first thing I heard him play on was the Lionell Hampton band things…
And to give you an idea of how square I was about some things, I was very fond of Tex Beneke - and the young fellow who was playing with Harry James.
But I thought the most exciting of the tenor players was the guy who played with Luncefore - Joe Thomas. A lot of things he did were not really of lasting musical value, but he was an exciting son of a bitch.
I listened to Pete brown, but he didn’t say much. He swung like hell, but the didn’t say much - sort of like the Roy Eldridge of the alto. You know what I mean? He knew how to get over, he was exciting, and he played well, but he rarely did anything that was complex. I’ll tell you who was the first alto player to do anything to me, playing alto differently from the way I was accustomed, was Earl Bostic, and I didn’t dig what he played so much as the way he played it. (12)
They (Jimmy Cole, from Indianapolis, and Jimmy Hensley, from Oklahoma) were the first alto players I heard in person who sounded - who had that explosive quality, that real hard swing. The ones I knew well - Johnny Hodges, Jimmy Dorsey - had that pretty quality. They could play fast, but it always seemed to be almost an exhibitionistic kind of thing, they had so much technique. (7)
The first alto players to impress me in swing tings were Eddie “Clean head” Vinson, and Pete Brown, and Rudy Williams with the Savoy Sultans. And then when I heard Charlie Parker on the Jay McShann records, I realized this was the sort of thing I’d fully expected from alto players all along. (3)
But I heard Eddie Vinson first. He was playing with Milton Lockin’s band and singing the blues. They used to tour the South. It was an east Texas band, out of Houston. I didn’t even know Eddies’s name; everybody called him “Mr. Clean head” He was fantastic. He was a very young man then. Milt’s band was Lunceford style, but raw, you understand? Lunceford had this impeccability in his band. But this was raw Lunceford - miss a lot of notes, loud, very little slurring. But they were an impressive band. (7)
As I became more musically aware, the Ellington thing became more important, because I realized that was something really exceptional musically. But as a kid I couldn’t realize that. All I knew was he was a big man with a big band. (7)
Frankly, my first efforts were nothing to be pound of. 1942, “Mr. Five-by-Five.” It was tired. It was a sad arrangement, but I started trying to write then. The first one that kind of really jumped was an old Savoy Sultans tune called “Ready, Set, Jump!” (14)
My parents made me stay in school. Otherwise I would have gone on the road with bands earlier in life. But as it was, I Ended up going on the road during the summers, and then going back to college in the fall. By the time I had gotten out of school though, those old touring dance bands like Any Kirk’s had disappeared. I did play in Buddy Johnson’s band and Lucky Millinder’s, as well as some regional and Florida bands. Also, my school bands had a chance of going out i8n the summer and doing it. We had a taste of honey, but I never went anywhere like New York or Chicago with a band –I never go heard like that. (19)
I was a school teacher and played in Florida and that was that. I never looked at myself as a leader or any such thing. I taught high school for two-and-a-half years, was in the Army for three, then returned to teaching for two-and-a-half more years, a span of eight years. (19)
I was thoroughly disgusted at that time. I had my heart set on being a musician all my life, and there was nothing. These were really the dark ages, 1947 - 8 - 9 - 50. There was just nothing happening. No big bands. The giants of jazz were in poor shape financially. There was nothing going on. I saw Miles Davis in 1950 for the first time, and I don’t think I ever saw a guy who presented so much to me look so bad.
There was really nothing much going on, and here I was in Florida. With nothing going on in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, you figure out what was going on in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
I got disgusted and concentrated on teaching. That went on for two years. I started teaching in September, 1948, and didn’t play my horn in public till New Year’s Eve. I got a job aboard Ripley’s Chinese junk. And from then to prom time (May and June) I didn’t touch my horn at all, aside from playing a demonstration or something like that for the kids. I had no reason to practice. I was depressed. Not so much depressed, but as far as jazz was concerned, it was just out.
(Army) I didn’t even consider going into the band. I was all set to go to OCS and all that foolishness. Do my intellectual bit. But I met a couple of musicians in my outfit from Detroit who played very well. One of the guys was an alto player named Hafis, and everybody was saying he was so good. One day he said to me, “They tell me you’re and alto player.” I said, “Yeah, I play a little.” He asked me to play for him. I didn’t and I got the bug again.
I decided to go into the band. And that’s the only reason I got back into music from a performer’s point of view, because I was through. It meant nothing to me any more. I’d been practicing all my life, and there was no outlet for it. (7)
Not since I was a kid did I have that all-consuming passion that said, “I’m going to make it, I’m going to take charge and be the greatest.” I had become attuned to being a good school teacher and a good musician. I used to on occasion practice my clarinet and flute and just stay in shape.
Ironically, I used to admire and hope to be like Charlie Mariano and other guys with Stan Kenton and Woody Herman. I thought, “If I could get into that kind of scene I’d be very happy.” I never thought of assaulting New York. I knew there were some guys who cold play very well; I always felt I could kind of play as well as the average second-rate alto player. But I didn’t have the time to devote to it. I was a school teacher playing commercial clubs at night backing singers. We really didn’t get a chance to stretch out or anything after I got out of school. I hadn’t played any serious jazz since I had left the Army. I met a lot of guys in the service who were really well-known jazz musicians, and who played very well. The thought of being in that kind of life never fazed me, because I could tell by playing with guys who worked professionally, that I could play okay-well enough to survive in the mainstream. (19)
Nat: Julian kept getting better jobs all the time, so that he didn’t want to leave home. But I went out on the road with Lionel Hampton in 1954. I made my first visit to New York on that trip. (5)
Julian: I went up to New York to see him play with the band around Christmas of ’54. I sat in with the band, and Hamp offered me a job. I was all ready to go, but Hamp’s wife, Gladys, put an end to that. She said to have two brothers in the band would organize a clique. Nat was disgusted about the whole thing, and by next summer, he and Hamp had fallen out altogether, and Hamp fired Nat. (7)
Nat: It’s strange, but I never heard Charlie Parker during that time. He just wasn’t around. Then I went to Europe in 1955 and, by the time that we came back, he had died.
But I heard a lot of other players, mostly saxophonists. So, when I got back home, I told Julian that maybe he’d better come on back to New York with me. The opportunity seemed to be all right, and I didn’t see where he would be a drag under any circumstances, considering how well he played.
I think he was a little worried about how he’d be accepted here, but another thing that stopped him was the fact that he had a very good job at the time. (5)
Julian: I had enrolled in summer school at New York University for some graduate study, although I hadn’t gone to classes yet. My brother Nat was living there free lancing after he’d left Lionel’s band. He told me to bring my horn, because there were some gigs to be played. (19)
I had always wanted to be a professional musician. But during the mid –‘50s things were pretty lean for jazz. I’m sure I wouldn’t have gone to the city if Nat hadn’t kept insisting. (18)
We were going to work with Ruth Brown or somebody. My first night in New York, Nat was out playing with Paul Williams, making some money, so we couldn’t have rehearsal. The Cooper brothers and I went down to the Café Bohemia to see Jimmy Cleveland. We got there, and this Café Bohemia incident took place.
My brother and I, Buster Cooper and his brother, Steve, we wanted to organize a group. One evening we went to the Café Bohemia to see Jimmy Cleveland, who was playing there with Oscar Pettiford, Kenny Clarke, Horace Silver - Jerome Richardson was the tenor in the group, but that evening, he was late. We were in the middle of the room with out instruments. Charlie Rouse arrived, and Oscar asked him to replace Richardson. But since Charlie didn’t have his sax, O.P. told him: “There’s a young fellow in the middle of the room who has an alto. Borrow it from him and play with us.” Rouse, instead of borrowing my instrument, asked me if I wanted to play. I accepted. Oscar kept me with him. (11)
Nat: The evening when Julian played, for the first time, at the Café Bohemia, everybody wanted to know Julian’s name. I was sitting in the room, waiting my turn to play. A man came to ask me Julian’s name. At the time, you couldn’t make a living freely, and I thought that the man was a union inspector. I replied, “I didn’t know, I think he comes from Florida and he’s called Cannonball.” For six or seven years, Julian hadn’t been called that, but it’s the first name that came into my mind. The man who I took for a union inspector was the proprietor of the Bohemia. He told his customers, “he’s called ‘Cannonball’.” In town, it was an explosion. You heard nothing but the phrase, “There is a young fellow at the Bohemia who calls himself ‘Cannonball’ and who plays like Charlie Parker!” Since then, Julian rid himself of the comparison with Parker, but never of his nickname, Cannonball. (11)
Julian: And from that point on, I was a confirmed jazz musician. Nothing else could interfere. Before I sat in I had envisioned going to school again. I had enrolled in New York University. I never went to class. I sat in at the Bohemia in a Sunday evening, and I was due to go to class on Monday. But I said, “I got a job at the Bohemia? Playing with Oscar Pettiford and those cats? Ummmph!” That was a dream come true. I wouldn’t have made it in class; it was preparation to make more money teaching. (7)
Playing opposite was a trio with Walter Bishop playing piano and Paul Chambers bass. I’d sit in with the trio and have a lot more fun there, since all of Oscar’s music was written. (19)
Nat: But he had signed a contract to teach in Florida, and he had to go back. (5)
Julian: I could have worked with somebody else, gone back to New York and taken my chances freelancing, but by this time I was making 10 grand a year in Florida. I had this teaching at 5 grand, and I was making $150 a week playing at night, plus I had a couple of side hustles. I sold automobiles, and I did quite well too. I had that gift of gab. Old ladies, I could sell them any kind of car. It was hard to turn my back on all that and come to New York with nothing. So we decided to organize this band. (7)
Nat: It was a scene getting him back again. Somebody would offer him a job here, but it wouldn’t come up to what he was getting in Florida. But I sneaked around and worked all kinds of deals to get him to come back. And he did. (5)
Julian: Miles had helped me when I first came to New York. He told me whom to avoid among the record companies, but unfortunately I didn’t take his advice. Al Lion of Blue Note was one man he recommended, and Miles also told me about John Levy. (4)
I formed my first band toward the end of 1955. Having worked in New York, I was –naively-sure that the best Florida musicians would meet the challenge of the major club circuit. I also had Junior Mance, and old army buddy, with the group. We had a few warm-ups in Florida, and then my manager, John Levy, booked us in Philadelphia. We had rehearsed two-and-a-half weeks. We spent a couple of days in New York before hitting Philadelphia, and during that time my Florida men heard the New York musicians. Then, in Philadelphia, they also had to cope with the fact that Philadelphians like John Coltrane and Red Garland, home for the weekend, were standing around listening.
It was soon clear that being competent in Florida had nothing to do with New York competition. (In my own case, for example, guys who seemed to me to swing when I was in Florida no longer do.) By the second day in Philadelphia, John Levy decided to fire everyone. (This was January, 1956) Jack Fields, an ex-musician and then owner of the Blue Note, was also somewhat upset. I had gotten great response in that room on the way to Florida with Kenny Clarke, bassist Jimmy Mobley, and pianist Hen Gates, but on the way back, I found out that you can’t fool anybody in Philadelphia. Jack lent me some money, and I hired Specs Wright as drummer, but I had to keep the bass player for a while or give him two weeks’ pay. He couldn’t keep an even tempo on fast numbers, so we had to stop playing fast things for a while.
We went on to Detroit and Cleveland for two weeks each, and when we got to New York, I eventually hired Sam Jones [bass]. (4)
I got a little more [money], and I hired Jimmy Cobb [drums]. Specs Wright was a good drummer, but Specs is real machine-like. (13)
We kept going for the rest of the year with a book based in large part on what my brother Nat and I wrote and some of the usual jazz standards. We began to record, but there were problems at Mercury. The man then in charge of jazz there pretty largely decided what we recorded, who the arrangers would be, and who would publish any originals we brought in. I tell you frankly that I didn't know at the time that I could protest, and I didn't at first go to John Levy with the problem. I had signed a 5 year contract with the company, and the options were entirely at their discretion. (I later found out the Union wouldn't allow more than 3 year contracts.) At first, being an unknown, I didn't even get any advances for my dates. Then there was a publicity splash of sorts, and they started that business about "The New Bird" which has plagued me ever since. (4)
Bird had died just 5 months before I arrived in the Apple. Record companies and jazz writers were looking for someone that they could hail as "The New Bird".
Well, at this time Sonny Criss and Sonny Stitt, Jackie McLean and Lou Donaldson, among others, were all playing great Bebop. Okay, here I come, a new face, and the promoters grabbed the idea of putting me up as Bird's replacement - my first record was advertised as such. You can imagine what kind of resentment was built up against me in the minds of a lot of players. When I objected - I wasn't even playing Bird's way - the publicity experts said that they knew what they were doing.
Actually, while the public was arguing which alto saxophonist was "The New Bird", I can't recall any musician striving for that credit. (18)
We were able to keep working fairly steadily through 1956. There was one stretch with two weeks off and various periods with a week layoff. We had come to New York with little money, and Nat and I both had cars, so that transportation was no problem. The sidemen were paid only when we worked; there was no one on retainer, so to speak.
II learned that year how important it is to keep the books accurately and to keep accounts separately. We were getting about a $1000 per week for 5 men. Out of that came $150 commission for my manager and booking office, $75 in Union taxes, a third of which we eventually got back, about $125 in Federal withholding taxes, and maybe another $15 in Social Security taxes. Now we should have deposited the money due the government in a separate account every week. But after a while, we began spending the money, because we also had gasoline bills, hotel bills (for ourselves, etc.). We were paying the sidemen $125 out which they had to pay their hotel bills.
By September of the next year, 1957, although we had been working steadily, we were about $9000 in debt. We had had no royalties from our recordings and had only made scale for making them. Besides, a lot of recording costs were charged against us which shouldn't have been. The band had not been particularly successful in that we had done about the sam e amount of business all the time. Very few clubs lost money on us, but they didn't make a hell of a lot either. (4)
We found that Nat and I, with a group to pay, could not make as much together as I could make alone with Miles. It was really a time of struggling. So when Nat went with J. J. Johnson, and I went with Miles. (18)
I got an offer from Dizzy to go with his small band. I was opposite Miles at the Bohemia, told him I was going to join Dizzy, and Miles asked me why I didn't join him. I told him he'd never asked me. Well, Miles kept talking to me for 2 or 3 months to come with him, and when I finally decided to finally cut loose in October, 1957, I joined Miles. I was with Miles from October, 1957, to September, 1959. (4)
Miles' group was a combo that had much success, but which was fairly - unusual. Miles was not satisfied with the group for reasons unrelated to the music - I joined Miles to replace Sonny Rollins. Actually, John Coltrane had left the group to play with Monk, and had been replaced by Sonny Rollins. But, at the moment of leaving on tour with a "Jazz for Moderns" show - where there was Gerry Mulligan, Chico Hamilton, Anita O'Day, Lennie Tristano - Rollins decided to stay in town to form his group. I became the saxophonist with the Miles Davis Quintet. But you're going to see how this group was - unstable. Actually, I had just arrived when, just before leaving on tour, Miles and Red Garland had some words. Tommy Flanagan left with us. The second night of the tour, Philly Joe didn't come, and Miles called Art Taylor. I watched all this movement with my eyes wide open. After the tour, the original group - Miles, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, john Coltrane - returned, and we recorded Milestones, etc. Then Red left us again; he had some alimony problems that prevented him from going where the group was going. Bill Evans came - then Philly Joe and Miles argued, and Philly Joe left. He was replaced by Jimmy Cobb. (11)
Especially when he started to use ill Evans, Miles changed his style very hard to a softer approach. Bill was brilliant in other areas, but he couldn't make the real hard things come off. Then Miles started writing new things and doing some of Ahmad's tunes. When Philly Joe left the band, Miles at first thought Jimmy Cobb wasn't as exciting on fast tempos, and so we did less of those. And although he loves Bill's work, Miles felt Bill didn't swing enough on things that weren't subdued. When Bill left, Miles hired Red again and got used to swinging so much that he later found Wynton Kelly, who does both the subdued things and the swingers very well. (4)
I gained a lot of experience from Miles. He is one of the most tasteful people in the business. He chooses his notes carefully, everything is well thought out. I learned a lot about musical economy from him. You can't repeat yourself night after night when you're working with Miles Davis. Miles and John COltrane are creating all the time, and the challenge is tremendous. (3)
I think I learned more through listening and playing with John than any other musician I ever heard. When we were first together, it seemed that John was playing more of what I wanted to play than anyone I have ever heard. (18)
I've got a new acetate I made of the kind of music that Miles doesn't particularly dig now. He's got a new concept now. He's tired of tunes. You know he says, "You play the melody, then everybody blows, and you play the melody, and the tune is ended, and that's a jazz performance." He says he's changed his concept somewhat - but it's one of those type LP's. I had all "soul brothers." It's on Riverside. I used Bags, Percy Heath, Wynton Kelly, and Art Blakey, and I thought it was a very good date. It was a "soul" session .(13)
In the fall of '59, Nat and I organized a new quintet. (18)
I had planned when I joined him to stay with Miles for about a year. But I stayed longer. Miles was getting more successful, and there was the business recession. I was functioning meanwhile as kind of road manager - paying off the guys, collecting money. Meanwhile I had been getting inquiries from club owners about when I'd start my own band again, because then kept noticing the response when my name was announced. I told John Levy I'd try again if he could get the group a minimum of $1500 a week. Nat helped me in the recruiting. I gave him a list of the guys I contacted. John got about 2 months for us at $1500 a week. We broke in the Peps in Philadelphia, then went on to the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco. To start with, we had about 12 or 14 things in the book. It just happened to work out that we had several gospel-type numbers. Nat and I had some originals in the book, and we got more material from Duke Pearson of Atlanta, now in New York, and Randy Weston. (4)
I'll tell you what our repertoire consisted of when we went to work in Philadelphia. We played Moanin'. We played Straight, No Chaser - Spontaneous COmbustion, and some other things from our old repertoire. Just tunes we enjoyed playing and tunes we learned to play quickly. We had to get started without substantially new material, because Louis Hayes (the group's drummer then and now) wasn't available for rehearsal until 4 days before we were supposed to go to work; he was still with Horace Silver.
Bobby Timmons wrote Dis Here - he used to say, "Dis here's my new tune" - in San Francisco, where we went after the first gig in Philadelphia. Dis Here fascinated me. I had never heard a tune like that before. It's a very difficult tune to play. Just playing the melody is tough. It was in 3/4 or 6/8, whichever way you want to look at it, and that made it challenging. It's got something in it to work on. At first, we had to force this tune on people, it seemed as if almost magically some people started asking for it. (7)
The album we made for Riverside at the Jazz Workshop is the biggest seller I've ever had, and one big factor is Bobby Timmons' This Here in it. Bobby wrote the tune in San Francisco, although he'd been working on it before. The tune sort of gave us a sendoff, and everything else seemed to fall in. The album went into 5 figures within 5 weeks. It has already sold more than all my Mercury albums combined - except for the string album. Now we're booked into the summer, plan to go to Europe then and play the Cannes Festival, and come back for several of the American festivals. (4)
This time, the group was an immediate success. (18)
I think that the jazz amateurs were ready for this type of group, because, at the time, all the combos appeared to be introverted. The public appreciated us, because we were happy together, and because we took pleasure in playing. (11)
We still don't know what we did that time that we didn't do the first time. (18)
It's tough to say. People are funny. The records we made then are selling 3 times as well now. I can't explain people's reluctance to attach themselves to a new group when there's not a reason for them to be interested in some personality in the group. Our group had no stars. There was no one in the group who was well known, including the leader - the leader was a newcomer. (7)
We were pressured quite heavily by Riverside Records when they discovered there was a word called "soul." We became, from an image point of view, soul jazz artists. They promoting us that way, and I kept deliberately fighting it, to the extent that it became a game. It's like not accepting the Nobel Prize, because it may tend to make one wealthy or something. It's hard to put everything in its proper perspective, when you are led to believe that you're going to be wealthy because of some limited aspect of music that you make. (17)
It doesn't seem to me that soul was a movement, at least among musicians. Among the record makers, certainly! Everybody in the record industry laid that label on thick to make it more durable, and especially more salable. But that was all foreign to musicians. Besides, for as long as I can remember, I always played as I play today, and I remember perfectly well a quintet that I had 6 or 7 years ago, with Junior Mance and Jimmy Cobb, and in which we played one of my things that I called Sermonette. At the time, no one tried to baptize that way of playing that we were already familiar with. People called that "jazz," simply! Maybe it's a bit for that reason that it never sold very well. (16)
We happened to hear a gospel group, the Staple Singers, doing [Why Am I Treated So Bad?] a couple of years back. It hasn't been as big as Mercy for us, but its still a big, big record - 150,000 singles, and the album is still approaching that figure.
Nowadays we sometimes work audiences who are totally fringe; that is, they wouldn't come to hear us under any circumstances unless we had a hit record. But once they're in the club, we have no trouble getting them interested in everything we do.
We play things that are very commercial, others that are very modern; and we like ballads and play them. (10)
It is not our intention to be typecast as exponents of soul music or anything else. We have some of Ornette Coleman's pieces, and the only reason that we haven't played them is that we haven't been able to arrange rehearsals with Ornette. You see, whether we're playing Ellington's music or Monk's or Ornette's, we try to establish the sound the composer had in mind. (18)
Actually, we soon will have had Joe Zawinul for 2 years, but that is twice as long as all the pianists that have played with us, excepting Junior Mance. And that truly bothers me, because Nat has been in the group since the beginning, and I have had the same bassist and the same drummer for 4 years. And moreover, Sam Jones spent a year and a half with me before those 4 years! (16)
Bobby Timmons stayed with us for 5 1/2 months. He left us to return to Art Blakey, and was replaced by Barry Harris, who stayed 6 months. (11)
As for Barry Harris, who I personally consider to be one of the greatest pianists of real jazz (he's the one who shaped Tommy Flanagan), he only feels good in Detroit or New York and refuses to leave on tour. (16)
Victor Feldman's the one who replaced Barry. Victor had already recorded an album with me, Poll Winners, where there was also Ray Brown, Louis Hayes, and Wes Montgomery. It was a good time with Victor, whom I like very much. He also stayed 6 months with us. He left us, because of his wife, who comes from California, was freezing in New York and wanted to go back. Victor was replaced by Joe Zawinul, who has stayed with us for 5 years. (11)
Since our outfit was going so well, we began looking around for a sixth member whose playing would compliment our direction and expand the total spectrum of the group. Yusef Lateef was perfect. He wasn't just a great musician, he also was a dynamic personality.
When he left to form his own group we knew that we'd never find a replacement for him. Instead, we tried substituting for him. These substitutes suffered by comparison - they didn't have Yuseef's charisma. Then we found Charles Lloyd.
He wasn't the type of player that anyone would compare to Yuseef; he had his own sound and style, and it fit into the group.
At this time, however, we went into this business doldrums, and we just weren't pulling in the kind of crowds that could support a sextet. So we cut back to our original quintet. (18)
Lloyd stayed with us for a year and a half, and after he left, we decided not to replace him. Charles' departure coincided with a change, the first in the rhythm section. Louis Hayes left us, after 6 years of collaboration, to go with Oscar Peterson. He was replaced by Roy McCurdy. Six months later, Sam Jones left us to rejoin Louis Hayes with Oscar. Herbie Lewis then became our bassist. (11)
I've had strong feelings for a long time about musicians who, like myself, were stationed in Florida and various places like that and never got a chance to be heard, and so I had an arrangement with Riverside Records called Cannonball Adderley Presentations. I went to Florida and brought up a trumpeter named Blue Mitchell and made him available. (19)
I'm the one who introduced to the company Wes Montgomery, Blue Mitchell, and the Mangione brothers, with whom my own drummer, Roy McCurdy, played. (11)
I went to Indianapolis and brought Wes Montgomery to New York. He had been playing in the Missile Room, an after-hours kind of situation. He was a musician who everyone knew about, but nobody was willing to make an effort to do anything for him really. He had made a guest appearance with his brothers with a group called the Mastersounds on Fantasy. But really wasn't a good recording. I was so happy to be able to get Wes recorded, and when he made a record in New York, his impact was tremendous.
Nancy Wilson I brought to New York from Columbus, Ohio, and I had Riverside record Bill Evans for the first time.
Also, there were a lot of neglected folk around New York, like Budd Johnson, an older clarinet and tenor player - really plays well. We did a date. Budd Johnson and the Four Brass Giants - Clark Terry, Harry Edison, Ray Nance, and Nat Adderley. These were the kind of things that were important to me. (19)
Dexter had just left "college," where he had spent some time, and no one was interested in him any more, As I had possibility of recording whoever I wanted, I organized a session that permitted him to come back into contact. The disc was named by Orrin Keepnews The Resurgence of Dexter Gordan! A pompous title!
In Paris, I supervised two sessions for CBS. The first was a Bud Powell trio, with Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke. The record was issued in the United States under the title Bud Powell Plays Thelonious Monk. The second, with the same rhythm section plus Idress Suliemann and Don Byas, has never been edited. I don't know why. (11)
There's a guy right now down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who is head of the jazz studies program at SOuthern University. His name is Alvin Batiste, and I have never heard a finer clarinet player. We almost did an album one time. We had done a little over a half, but I had to go out of town, and we had an equipment foul-up with Riverside, and Alvin had to go back to Louisiana. We never finished the date; in the end the company went out of business, so Alvin's first chance to be heard fell through. He was out in California last summer and played a few tracks we were recording. He can hold his own with all the great players. (19)
We went to Georgia, and spent a week in residence at Albany State College, during Black Heritage Week. We found out that the kids there, all black, had no concept of what jazz represented. They knew who we were, because we had a record called Mercy, Mercy,, Mercy, and they identified us as Cannonball Adderley Mercy, Mercy, Mercy - and that was the limit. So I did a little inquiring and discovered that not only did they know nothing about jazz, but they didn't know anything about the music that they danced to or sang. They take for granted that there is going to be a new James Brown record, that there is going to be a good choir at the church to provoke certain things for them, or that B. B. King is going to come out with a new record and it's all going to be beautiful. They take it all for granted, but why? What is this all about? They're all wearing dashikis and natural hairdos and saying, "I'm Black and I'm proud," but proud of what? Are you proud because your skin is black? Is that the reason you are proud? I don't think that skin color is any reason to be proud or sorry. I think that a person should be proud of himself - for whatever he is, if he has a reason to be proud of himself. By the same token, he should not be ashamed of himself unless he has a reason to be ashamed of himself. So, you walk around and sat that you are Black and proud, but you do not know anything about being Black? Yes, they run down things to you, like Malcom X or Stokely Carmichael or anything that is recent, and even get into something about Africa, "Well, we know that the slaves came over here, and so forth," generalities.
And I say, "Well, you have a lot of things that are part of your everyday existence that you have a reason to be proud of - you should be proud of this music that is Black-oriented, that was begun, nurtured, and developed by Black people, in essence. And you don't know anything about it. Why don't you? If are really proud of being Black, why don't you know something about it - you should." You see, we have been told in print and over the air that, by and large, the music is dying - jazz is dead or dying - and I resent it, because there's really a lot happening. We have become alarmed about this thing, and, fearing that the rumors might become reality, we decided to do something about it. (6)
Although there is more interest in performing music today than ever before, the standards for performance are lower than ever. When I was a kid, I knew I had to be a pretty good saxophone player to get a job. It was obvious to me that I couldn't play as well as Johnny Hodges, Jimmy Dorsey, or Benny Carter. Today, though, a kid may be playing guitar just for his own enjoyment, then find that someone who doesn't play any better than he does just earned 5 million dollars with a couple of records.
There's not enough public admiration for truly great artistry. The only ones who are lionized and revered are the old men, like Pablo Casals. People select this institutions to idolize rather than the artistic level to emulate.
We're hoping, with our college tours, to stimulate young musicians into wanting to improve themselves. (2)
Our seminar workshops consist of lecture demonstrations on jazz, styles in jazz, and why jazz is a little bit different. We also go into the sociological aspects of jazz and why we talk black. We don't talk black about militancy or any such things - we never suggest that there is anything wrong with any other music. It'd ironic that one of our teachers and members is Joe Zawinul, who is white and has a great concept of expressing this black-oriented music - anybody can do it if they love it and get involved in it.
Racial orientation has nothing to do with the performance of the music. We talk about its origins and development on the basis of its blackness, simply because that's the way that it has to be, but we don't say that this is something that is peculiar to Black people, because that is ridiculous. (6)
We're one of the most popular groups that plays colleges, and I don't mind being categorized as pop. But I don't like idea of jazz as an institution being dismissed.
Man, we've gotten into everything. We've been reading everything we can put our hands on. We've studied Melville Herskovits (who wrote The Myth of the Negro Past). We've discussed Franklin Frazier's Black Bourgeoisie, and we've found that it is just what it says it is. Now we have a bibliography. We have a list of recommended records and instructional material. By the first of the year, we'll have a syllabus in print, and then ought to be really swinging. (1)
We researched and even developed a syllabus, but we never put it into print, because there were lots of people who suddenly appeared as experts, and it never really mattered if it did get printed or not - we just wanted to get the juices flowing.
We do a formal presentation on the development of jazz, emulating the styles and so forth, telling anecdotes about the people and maybe why things worked out the way they did. It's not designed to be a course, nor do we intend to lecture at the people. We want exchange, and that is all.
We don't have as many calls for these seminars today as we did, because most schools have a resident jazz program. Our seminars are not just for musicians, but for general students. Like we were at the University of California doing just that, and at one of our sessions we had something like 4000 people. So that's a really fantastic response, and it makes it all worthwhile. We were artists in residence at UCLA for a week, and we did a full spectrum of things there - clinics, seminars, concerts, and rap sessions at night in the various dorms. Just exchanging ideas about social issues, political things, about music, and things about our personal lives.
In all our formal sessions, we had in excess of 2500 to 3000 people. They were telling me at UCLA that they had other groups like the Julliard String Quartet, poets, and painters, but that the students weren't really using them. That really made me feel good, because they really used us. (19)
[Performances at the rock palaces, such as San Francisco's Fillmore West] The kids really enjoyed our music, and the more far-out we played, the better they like it. If we played a traditional Monk-type tune, it would go over like a rock, but if we really got into other things, expressionism, they called it "doing your own thing," and they dug it. Today, John Coltrane would probably be bigger than bubble gum. (6)
Come next month, Roy McCurdy will have been with us 8 years, Walter's been playing bass about 3 1/2 years. George Duke is the newest member of our group; he's only been in the band 14 or 15 months. He was teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory. At 26, he's had more varied experiences than most people have during their entire career. He's played with Gerald Wilson, Don Ellis, Frank Zappa and the Mothers, and has had his own group. (19)
We're very loose. We don't have a real boss-employee relationship. I'm not an ego leader. I like musicians who can play, and I like to hear them play, and we don't need anyone decorating the bandstand to play behind me. (19)
It's not difficult to keep our band working; we can work far more than we want to, but we just don't make any money at it. Our greatest expense is airline tickets. We don't do that many club dates. We mostly college concerts, festivals, and then some regular commercial package-type concerts. We're managed by John Levy, who also manages Nancy Wilson, Roberta Flack, Les McCann, and Freddie Hubbard, and so we can all be packaged off with each other in these concerts.
None of us really like to take care of the business angle of the business. I was lucky, because I got started out with John Levy. Miles Davis told him years ago to take care of me. John takes care of all the logistics of this type of operation. He sees to it that we get there, and that relieves me of the things other than the musical responsibilities. (19)
We're doing a one-nighter in Finland - I can hardly wait - a one-night in Cannes, and this month a tour of South America. In October we're doing a Japanese tour, and in November we're going to do a European tour that includes Prague, Warsaw, Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest - i'm just thrilled - along with the standard western European places, including Lisbon - I don't anybody who's ever played there. Isn't that wild?
My brother and I think these things up; we have our own self-contained think tank. We've been trying to help small impoverished schools, colleges, and so forth, to apply for grants from the National Endowment for the Arts to get us on the campuses where we would otherwise never be. We Jackson State College in Mississippi and Benedict College in South Carolina. These are Black schools that really have no money for this type of thing. The fees are approximate, just so we can get there and it doesn't cost us anything - we don't go in for profit.
We have a booking coming up in South Dakota for 2 days that's been made possible by matching funds from 3-M and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The following summer we're going to do an Upward Bound jazz camp at Florida A & M for 5 weeks. I'm going to get people like DOnald Byrd to come in and do a week. We're even going to do a course on "Show business-business." (19)
Alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley died August 8, 1975, in a Gary, Indiana hospital following a massive stroke. He was 46. (15)
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