Cannonball and Nat Adderley Nat Adderly with his brother at a FAMU concert. 197-. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Cannonball and Nat Adderley were two brothers that became prominent jazz and blues musicians of the twentieth century. Playing alto saxophone and cornet respectively, they both had significant success playing in their own band as well as with major jazz musicians such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane. While living in Tallahassee 1940s, they played with Ray Charles who also lived in the area at the time.

Born in Tampa in 1928, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley picked up the alto saxophone. Moving to Tallahassee with his parents during his high school years, Cannonball eventually attended Florida A & M University in Tallahassee to study band education. Graduating in 1948, he then worked as a band director in the Fort Lauderdale school district.

Nat Adderley, the younger of the brothers, began as a trumpet player, an instrument passed down by his father. Born in Tampa in 1931 he moved to Tallahassee with his family while still in grade school. Later, he also attended Florida A&M University, initially focusing his studies in the field of sociology with a minor in music. Towards the end of his college career, he changed his instrumental focus to the cornet and never looked back.

After teaching for several years in Fort Lauderdale, Cannonball decided to move to New York City with his brother Nat to focus on performing. They formed a band titled the “Cannonball Adderley Quintet,” which later evolved into a different group with Miles Davis. The brothers’ music was never locked in a specific genre or style of jazz, evolving from blues to bebop, funk, and jazz through the course of their tours and recordings. They also brought to life a new style of recording – “live” sessions, featured on their premiere album The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco.

Some prominent releases in Cannonball’s immense discography include Milestones and Kind of Blue with Miles Davis’s band, as well as his own releases Big Man: The Legend of John Henry and Something Else. Nat Adderley’s discography includes Work Song, Branching Out, and Introducing Nat Adderley, and many more records.

Point of Interest

Both brothers lived in Tallahassee and attended Florida A & M University. While their music careers took them to New York City and all over the world, they were both laid to rest in Tallahassee in the city's Southside Cemetery.