Coronetist and composer Nat Adderley was born in Tampa, Florida on November 25, 1931. He died in Lakeland, Florida on January 2, 2000.
It should be noted that different sources list different years for his death. Scott Yanow, writing for allmusic.com, correctly says Nat Adderley died in 2000. Feather & Gitler in The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz say he died in 2001. And at least one other source which I have lost says Adderley died in 2002.
To settle the matter, I provide here a link to the Nat Adderley page on findagrave.com. You can clearly see on his headstone that the date of death was January 2, 2000.
While he never achieved the prominence of his brother Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, he was nonetheless an excellent performer. He is primarily known as a sideman for Cannonball’s band, but he did get out and perform with others.
In fact, his first professional gig appears to have been with none other than Lionel Hampton and his band. He also appeared with Jimmy Cobb (who is on this week’s album), Bill Evans, J.J. Johnson, Woody Herman, and others.
After Cannonball died in 1975, Nat Adderley was finally able to emerge from his brother’s shadow and pursue a career on his own.
The album I want to tell you about this week was recorded live at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco. It was released in 1982 on the Evidence label, and is called “On The Move.”
As always, let’s begin with the personnel.
Nat Adderley, coronet
Sonny Fortune, alto sax
Larry Willis, piano
Walter Booker, bass
Jimmy Cobb, drums
“On The Move” opens with an offering from pianist Willis, “Malandro.” This is an interesting song, an energetic piece of music that does a good job of setting us (and the live audience) up for what is to follow.
In May of1983 the group appeared live at the Jazz Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Milwaukee Journal staff writer Kevin Lynch, reviewing the band’s appearance, described “Malandro” as “…an expansive, Spanish-sounding creation… Each soloist stretched the tune into exotic reaches…”
I’m not sure I agree with the first part of that, but the second part is absolutely on track.
The next song we are treated to is “The Boy With The Sad Eyes,” written by Adderley himself. It opens with a hauntingly quiet refrain that leads you to expect a quiet little ballad. A little over a minute in, the pace quickens a bit, driven by Willis’ vamp on the piano and Cobb on the drums. Then Adderley steps forward gives us a wonderful solo.
Then we are back to Willis and Booker, driving forward, on and on, relentlessly, backed by Cobb beating the daylights out of his kit. Willis carries it madly on to the end, to the audiences great delight.
“Naturally,” another Adderley original, is up next. This one is a bit muted compared to the first three songs, but even so it has a nicely up-tempo feel that makes it difficult not to smile as you listen. Adderley sets it up and then Fortune takes off and runs with it. Things calm down a bit when Willis takes the lead, but pacesetters Cobb and Booker do not relent. Eventually Adderley returns and takes it to the end.
Next up is “The Scene,” a song that Adderley wrote along with his son, Nat Adderley Jr. and Joe Zawinul. The first time I heard “The Scene,” I wasn’t sure I liked it at first. Unfortunately, by the time I decided that I did like it, Adderley began making the band member announcements over the top of it. That lasts only a moment though, and then we are treated to a wonderful toe-tapping, hand-clapping rendition of a song that the audience got a huge kick out of.
The final song on this short album is also the longest, running almost fifteen minutes. It is another Willis melody, “Come In Out Of The Rain,” and showcases Fortune on the alto.
The song begins as a warm, mellow ballad, the sort of thing you can imagine listening to at midnight when the day is done and everyone has gone home and you are cleaning up before going to bed. But a couple of minutes in, the pace quickens and you find yourself listening to a very different piece of music entirely.
It has been said that Adderley was adept at hitting the extremes of this instrument’s range, but it is obvious from this tune that Fortune was no less able on his own horn. To be fair, everyone pulls out the stops on “Come In Out Of The Rain,” obviously wanting to send the live audience home with warm memories of a lively evening.
I won’t name names, but when I think of some of the mean things certain people have written about Adderley’s performance this night, all I can think is that they are either deaf or just plain full of bullshit.
Needless to say, I believe that the Nat Adderley Qunitet’s album “On The Move” will make a fantastic addition to your personal playlist, for a Saturday or any other night!
To learn more about Nat Adderley and his music, here are some sites to check out.
The folks at NPR have a nice bio of him here. (And they got the year of his death correct, also.)
Over on jazztrumpetsolos.com, they don’t mention when he died, but they do have an ample bio.
Concord Music Group has a good bio of him also, and yes, they got the year right too.
Thank you for reading this.
Wood Village, Oregon
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