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Nat Adderley

Nat Adderley
Posted By: Maria Reams on October 18, 2007

Nat Adderley worked in his brother’s band for 16 years, and during most of that time he was been cited as a strong, integral part of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet. Critics always say he didn’t get the attention he deserved, mostly because the Quintet was a finely-honed group, and to say one part is better than another was an exercise in futility.
As Jon Hendricks said of the Adderley brothers: “Cannonball and Nat have shared a whole incarnation on Earth together. They are together, and I don’t mean just playin’ at the same time, but being the same thing at the same time, which ain’t easy.”
Talking about his early days in Florida, Nat said he made his musical debut at the Edgewood Club in Tallahassee.



He described himself as a “boy soprano singer, and I stayed that way until 12 when my voice changed.” Nat then picked up the trumpet and started blowing “for my daily bread.” For the next seven years he played with a series of bands, and finally got his voice straightened out “to the point where I sounded like a teen Billy Eckstine.”
Adderley eventually ended up in the Army and was stationed in Louisville, Kentucky. “By this time I was so heavy into the jazz scene that I spent each free weekend in Louisville or across the border in Indiana sitting in with local jazz and blues groups who were laying down Charlie Parker tunes.”
After the Army, Adderley entered Florida A&M, and graduated with a B.S. in sociology. He went on to graduate school and then landed “my first major job— playing with Lionel Hampton.” This association lasted for a year. Following Hampton, Adderley worked with a series of r&b groups and eventually teamed up with his brother Julian “Cannonball” Adderley in 1955. In 1956 Nat formed his own band, working with such jazz figures as Sam Jones, Jimmy Cobb, and Junior Mance. This was to last until 1957. “Then my brother joined Miles Davis, and I freelanced around New York with Bill Evans and [alto/saxist] Lou Donaldson.”
Nat Adderley was also a composer of some note. He wrote “Jive Samba” and “Work Song,” two songs which have often been recorded by others.
Nat Adderley died on January 2, 2000.
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