(b Tampa, FL, 25 Nov 1931; d Lakeland, FL, 2 Jan 2000). American cornetist, leader and composer, brother of Cannonball Adderley. His birthdate has appeared in all known reference sources as 25 November, but the Cadence interviewer asserts that it is 21 November, and Adderley replied “right”; he failed to answer a subsequent query about this. He took up trumpet as a teenager after World War II and began his career playing with local bands in Florida; both he and his brother received informal tutoring in jazz from Jaki Byard, then stationed at a nearby army camp. After changing to cornet (1950, or perhaps earlier, by another account) he played jazz in an army band under his brother's direction (1951–3). His first important association was with Lionel Hampton (July 1954 – May 1955), and in 1956 he joined the influential small group led by his brother. While Cannonball played with Miles Davis (1957–9) Nat worked with J. J. Johnson and Woody Herman; he then joined his brother’s second group and remained with it until the latter’s death in 1975. During this period he appeared in television shows and films with Cannonball, and also ghosted the trumpet playing for the actor Sammy Davis, Jr., in the film A Man Called Adam (1966). In 1976 he toured Europe, both as a leader and a member of larger ensembles, and the following year he performed with Johnson’s quintet in Japan. He recorded frequently with his own quintet and also led seminars at Harvard, while continuing to tour nationally and internationally for roughly six months of each year. In 1980 he toured Europe as the leader of the Adderley Brotherhood, a sextet with Jerome Richardson, Charles McPherson, and three former members of the brothers’ rhythm section: Hal Galper, Walter Booker, and Roy McCurdy. Booker and Jimmy Cobb continued as members of Adderley’s quintet for many years; they were joined by the alto saxophonists Sonny Fortune, Vincent Herring (late 1980s–1994), and Antonio Hart (from mid-1994), and the pianist Rob Bargad (1990s). Adderley also performed with the Paris Reunion Band in the mid-1980s and recorded in two all-star bop groups under the name of the Riverside Reunion Band, the first formed at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1993 and the second organized for performances in Europe in 1994. He continued to play into the late 1990s until complications from diabetes led to a leg amputation and effectively ended his career.
One of the few contemporary soloists on cornet, Adderley gradually emerged from the shadow of his more famous brother. His style successfully combined lyricism with the directness and immediacy of hard bop. He was a skilled composer whose work has been published by Hansen; his pieces include Work Song and Jive Samba. His musical about the folk hero John Henry, Shout up a Morning, which he began in collaboration with his brother, was performed on Broadway in 1986. His son, the pianist and keyboard player Nat Adderley, Jr. (b Quincy, FL, 22 May 1955), began performing and recording with Cannonball Adderley as a teenager, and has worked as a producer and accompanist for such soul singers as Luther Vandross and Aretha Franklin.
Oral history material in NjR; video oral history material in NCH (HCJA) and NN-Sc (LAJOHP).
N. Adderley: “Cannon and I,” Metronome, lxxvii/12 (1960), 18
B. Gardner: “The Biggest Little Brother: an Appreciation of Nat Adderley,” DB, xxxiii/3 (1966), 22
L. Lyons: “Nat Adderley: Standing out on his Own,” DB, xliii/19 (1976), 14 [incl. discography]
L. Tomkins: “Nat Adderley: Evolution and the Brotherhood,” CI, xix/3 (1980), 22
J. Carey: “Nat Adderley: On the Move,” JT (1983), Sept, 7
O. Keepnews: The View from Within: Jazz Writings, 1948–1987 (New York, and Oxford, England, 1988), 206
S. Woolley: “Nat Adderley: a Brother in Awe,” JJI, xli/5 (1988), 8
F. Postif: Les grandes interviews de Jazz hot (Paris, 1989)
J. Kaliss: “Nat Keeps Shooting Sans Cannonball,” San Francisco Chronicle Datebook (5 Aug 1990)
A. Lewis and L. Lewis: “Nat Adderley: Interview,” Cadence, xviii/3 (1992), 5