Cannonball Adderley

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Some nights, like some people, are just magic.

One June night in 1955, a young teacher traveled to New York City from Fort Lauderdale to attend graduate school in education. The night he arrived in the Big Apple, he went to the Café Bohemia to hear Oscar Pettiford's band. When the band was supposed to start its first set, the saxophonist still hadn't arrived. As fate would have it this young teacher from Florida had his saxophone with him because he was nervous about leaving it in the car.

Now Oscar Pettiford needed a temporary replacement for the missing saxophonist. When he spotted the instrument in the educator's hands, he sent a friend, Charlie Rouse, over to borrow the horn. But Charlie returned with the player as well as the horn. Rouse told Pettiford that the man wouldn't let anyone else play his sax, but he would be happy to sit in until the other player arrived.

As the story goes, Pettiford was irritated by the man's presumption so he set out to embarrass the young teacher by setting the tempo at a fast and furious pace. But this was a special night. And this was a special young man. He not only kept up with the seasoned musicians but performed a solo during Pettiford's own "Bohemia After Dark" that had jazz musicians and fans alike buzzing about the newcomer for weeks. They were calling him the next Charlie Parker. That young teacher from Fort Lauderdale was Julian "Cannonball" Adderley.

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© Copyright 2000 Angela Dean Vigil
Last revised: 11-26-2000