Wilson Benesch, Buddy RichJulian Edwin “Cannonball” Adderley, September 15, 1928 – August 8, 1975, was a jazz alto saxophonist of the hard-bop era of the 1950s and 1960s. Well known for his 1966 single “Mercy Mercy Mercy” and for his work with trumpeter Miles Davis, which included sections on arguably one of the most famous jazz records of all time, “Kind of Blue” in 1959. His brother was the also well known jazz cornetist Nat Adderley.

Adderley was originally from Florida, where he and his brother played with Ray Charles during the 1940s. But it was in New York where his prolific career began. Adderley attended a club to watch Oscar Pettiford’s group, by chance the saxophonist was late and Adderley had brought his saxophone with him for fear that it might be stolen. He was asked to sit in as the saxophone player and in true Cannonball style, he soared through the changes and became a sensation in the following weeks.

Prior to joining the Miles Davis band, Adderley formed his own group with his brother Nat after signing onto the Savoy jazz label in 1957. He was noticed by Miles Davis, and it was because of his blues-rooted alto saxophone that Davis asked him to play with his group.

Adderley joined the Miles Davis sextet in October 1957, three months prior to John Coltrane’s return to the group. Adderley played on the seminal Davis records Milestones and Kind of Blue. This period also overlapped with pianist Bill Evans’s time with the sextet, an association that led to recording Portrait of Cannonball and Know What I Mean?.

Adderley died of a stroke in 1975. He was buried in the Southside Cemetery, Tallahassee, Florida. Later that year he was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.

Here’s a little something we found.