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The Very Best of Cannonball Adderley

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Album Review

Cannonball Adderley was a fluid but explosive alto saxophonist with a driving, shotgun style derived from Charlie Parker, but with added-in elements of jump blues, gospel, and country, until Adderley arrived at a wonderful signature sound that bridged hard bop and what would come to be called soul-jazz. His recording career was woefully brief, less than 20 years, from 1958 to 1975 — the year Adderley died of a heart attack at the age of 46. This tight set, drawn from LPs released originally by the Riverside and Fantasy record labels, provides a warm and loose sketch of Adderley's recorded legacy, from 1958's "Things Are Getting Better," which features vibes maestro Milt Jackson, to 1975's "Jive Samba," which features Adderley's ever-present brother Nat Adderley on cornet. Adderley was a former schoolteacher, and his live shows were often like fascinating little lectures on music and jazz, and when he played, well, that was when he really started talking. That his recorded catalog is smaller than it should have been is a shame, but that it is so rich, joyous, and driving makes it a treasure. This set hints at why.


Born: September 15, 1928 in Tampa, FL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

One of the great alto saxophonists, Cannonball Adderley had an exuberant and happy sound that communicated immediately to listeners. His intelligent presentation of his music (often explaining what he and his musicians were going to play) helped make him one of the most popular of all jazzmen. Adderley already had an established career as a high school band director in Florida when, during a 1955 visit to New York, he was persuaded to sit in with Oscar Pettiford's group at the Cafe Bohemia. His...
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