Stars fell on Alabama
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Stars fell on Alabama

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(jazz original scores)

Play jazz: "Stars Fell on Alabama " –  Cannonball Adderley improvisation on the theme by Frank Perkins is included in the album "Cannonball and Coltrane", recorded in Chicago , Universal Studio , February 3,1959. (Julian Cannonball Adderley - Leader-Alto Sax, Wynton Kelly - Piano, Paul Chambers - Bass, Jimmy Cobb - Drums).

"Cannonball and Coltrane"

This session was cut while all the above were sidemen working with Miles Davis ' group at the Sutherland Hotel in 1959!

The need to feel ten feet tall. This is a malady which plagues men in general and great musicians in particular. No reputable jazzmam wants to set tiny feet inside the footprints left by others. Rather he seeks to stand straight and stamp his own mark. For the last five years, one alto man has been the object of much examination and cross-examination. He has been discarded as a rank imitator of the great "Yardbird" and he has been hailed as the greatest living exponent of the alto. He now strides across the country a recognized and respected figure in jazz. He is popularly known as "Cannonball."

Cannonball Adderley

In spite of his own personal recognition as a key figure in the development of jazz, the one person in the world who cannot be convinced that Julian Adderley is a powerful force in the movement and a person to be reckoned with musically is Cannonball himself. Confident that he is a cut or so beyond the average musician, Cannonball nevertheless self-consciously shrugs off any compliment or suggestion that he is in any sense a giant of jazz. An article once quoted Adderley as challenging Sonny Stitt for the "Bird" mantle. Cannonball spent many days trying to have this statement retracted or at least amended. This incident is one in a long line of similar experiences which add up to his present position on interviews and jazz writers.

"They seldom print the truth as you say it," Cannonball charges,  "They just take part of what you say out of context and print it for sensationalism or they take a remark you make in joking and build it into something that will sell more copies."





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  Stars Fell on Alabama (Cannonball Adderley)




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Yet approaching Julian Adderley is one of the more easy tasks in the area of interviewing. He has a wide open, warm personality, and he never meets a stranger. In sprite of his impressive, 262-pound frame, Cannonball has a youthful, disorganized appearance which seems to make most women immediately want to straighten his tie or button the last button on his jacket. This appearance is most deceptive, however, as Julian Adderley is a mature, responsible individual who has no recollection of making the transition between childhood and adulthood.

Wynton Kelly

"Boys in my age bracket had no adolescence," he says. "The war created a man shortage, and teenage boys were thrown into situations much too advanced for our years. We grew up all at once. I don't recall ever having the kind of life the teenagers of today are having." A bright child, Julian went into the ninth grade at ten years of age, graduated from Florida A & M College early, and was teaching high school music when he was 19. His teaching career was short-lived, however. He had picked up the alto when he was 14 and at 16 had begun playing professionally for spending money while still in school. It was soon evident that the bright lights and excitement of night clubs and dance halls were not going to be a satisfactory supplement to the respectability expected of a school teacher.

The problem was solved for Cannonball by the government, and he was swept into the army. His study of the horn continued, and when he returned to civilian life he was ready for a full time berth on the music train. He hit bigtime jazz in New York City in 1955 with the Oscar Pettiford group. He formed his own group with brother Nat, and the Adderley brothers created a family reputation to be spoken of in the same breath as the Jones Boys
Paul Chambers
In 1958, Julian Adderley joined the Miles Davis quintet, and the relationship has been a profitable one for both men. Cannonball had the responsibility of being spokesman as well as business manager of the group. Miles Davis reflected great reliance on his friend and left all matters not pertaining directly to the music of the group in his hands.

An articulate spokesman, Cannonball belies the myth that jazz musicians are by and large a strange, way-out group of uneducated hipsters. At the Newport festival, he sat in on panel discussions and skillfully chided critics and panelists for many of the academic approaches they made to jazz. He was equally as fluent in discussing world affairs, current events, or simply stating a musician's point of view.

One is not to assume that this man is a plaster saint, however. One will find he is all flesh and blood with a little mud all the way up to the neck. Cannonball has a vocabulary which would send the most seaworthy sailor scurrying Normally an articulate well-spoken man, he possesses a wealth of earthy, explosive terms which he unleashes without batting an eyelash at the most unexpected moments. The relaxed, congenial musician can become an irritable, grumpy, thorn-paw tiger when the pressures of his work begin to mount.

The day before a record date usually finds him alone, brooding over sheets of music paper on which he may have the beginnings of three different charts or melodic lines for the session.
Jimmy Cobb
This date was no exception. Much of the writing was finished in the recording studio. Adderley had a bowl of soup and nothing more to eat on the day of the recording session. He walked into the studio jittery and fidgety after not having slept for some time. A master of his instrument, he seems reluctant to commit his mastery to posterity. Perhaps this is evidence of the uncertainty and lack of satisfaction he feels in his accomplishments. This hesitancy in no way negates his contribution to jazz-even Cannonball is aware of his prowess with the alto; rather it is the inner quest for greater heights that makes him hesitate before accepting laurels for his present performance.

This striving for expression has its penalties as well as rewards. Sometimes the experiments come off well and sometimes they don't. This makes for necessarily uneven performances. This is one of the frustrations which occur in recording sessions. A good solo may be lost when the rhythm section comes in one bar too early or the studio engineer forgets to open the Number 2 microphone or someone happens to trip over the extension cord, and not even a musician like Adderley is able to produce the same solo twice. However, there are no qualms about the blues. Cannonball blows chorus after chorus of earthy or exalting blues with ease and confidence.

Cannonball looks forward to the future of jazz with great enthusiasm : He expresses justified confidence that his co-worker and prominent tenorman, John Coltrane will 'have much to do with the opening of new horizons.

"Bird played things people had never heard before, and so did Lester Young," he asserts, "John Coltrane is like that. He hears things way ahead, even while he is playing. Someday people will recognize how much he really has to say. His ideas on harmony are fantastic, and what he does to our existing theories on chord progression is too exciting." Of his own future, when asked if he planned to follow the path taken by many of his contemporaries of playing several instruments, Cannonball states emphatically, "No, I just want to develop and be able to say something on the alto. One horn is enough. That will keep me busy."

A typical New Yorker, he believes that New York is the place to live, but he expresses his admiration for the nation's capital.

"Those people in Washington really know how to live graciously. I imagine all the diplomatic activity there has something to do with it. When they have a formal affair, it is really formal. Everything is correct down to the last button." Such keen observation would come as a surprise to the many friends who see Cannonball dressed most often in an overhanging, open throat sports shirt, slacks and an unsanitary-looking trench coat. He has a method to the dirty coat madness however.

I'm always suspicious of a man in a clean trench coat. Watch for it-nine times out of ten, he's a square. A trench coat doesn't have any soul until it gets dirty."

Despite his current love for New York and his fascination for Washington, often Cannonball longs for the Everglades and Fort Lauderdale. He remembers with nostalgia the days spent on the campus of Florida A & M College.

- "Boy, I really live every time I go back there. I feel like a king when I go on that campus." Therein perhaps lies the key to Julian Adderley"