Jazz Musician. He was the younger brother of famous jazz musician Julius "Cannonball" Adderley. Although some may disagree, he never was in his brother's shadow as he was multi-talented in his own right playing the trumpet as a teen then changing to the cornet in 1950, then adding the French horn, plus composing "soul jazz" music arrangements, being the business manager his brother band for years and later leading his own band. Born in Tampa, FL to music teachers Julian, Sr. and Sugar Adderley, Nat, as his family called him, spent his childhood in Tallahassee where his parents taught music at Florida A&M University. You could say that Nat literally looked up to his older brother since he was a head shorter and even looked shorter as he slouched to brace his horn on his chest. At the age of twelve, he made his musical debut at Tallahassee's Edgewood Club by singing soprano in older brother's band, The Royal Swingsters. It was his brother and father who taught him to play various hand-me-down horns, yet his mother encouraged him to leave music behind to study law, but this young black man chose the musician's life. Nat enlisted in the Army in 1950 playing with his unit's band while in Korea, and then later on base at Louisville, Kentucky. After his discharge in 1953, he returned to Florida where his mother coerced him to enroll in pre-law at Florida A&M, but he graduated with a degree in sociology and attended some graduate school, while earning acclaim reviews at local jazz clubs. At this point in his career, he had an invitation from local trombonist to join Lionel Hampton's band on a European tour. Of course, his mother didn't approve of the environment in the nightlife offered in clubs on the tour, but he left anyway. Upon returning back to Florida in 1955, he joined his older brother, who had been a high school teacher in south Florida, for a road trip to New York City. This was a turning point for both brothers, as they proved to a long list of well-known professional musicians that they had the talent to be jazz musicians. Less than one month later Nat had his first recording debut, even if it was a background part on an album. The band soon signed with Mercury Records, which would be the first of many recording companies to hire them, and the Cannonball Adderley Quintet was on its way. A whirlwind of engagements followed, but with less income than expected, the quintet disbanded in 1957. After that, Nat played with renounced musicians here in the states and in Europe. The next year, he recorded the album "Grand Street" with tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. As for the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, the second try was the charm, and Nat stepped up to be their business manager as well as playing his horn. In 1960, the group released their pioneering album, "The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco", which became the birth of the sound of "soul jazz". As with all of the Quintet's albums, the covers were titled with the subhead: "featuring Nat Adderley", which enabled him to be recognized for himself. This led to the opportunity to record his first hit album, "Work Song" in 1960. As the years passed, Nat was recorded with over a hundred performers from Bobby Darrin to Nancy Wilson. In 1968, Nat composed "Jive Samba", another hit for the Cannonball Adderley. Nat helped to keep the band in forefront of jazz-soul, performing, composing and booking. Nat performed on the album "Fiddler on the Roof", which one of eleven albums that he made. February of 1968, their "Mercy" album won a Grammy award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for the best instrumental jazz performance by a small group. Their "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" was given lyrics later for the Buckingham's' hit and more recently, Queen Latifah performed it with another set of lyrics. In 1975, Cannonball died suddenly from a stroke. After finishing the band's final tour in tribute to his brother, Nat returned to Florida A&M to become an artist in residence and teaching his trade. Also following his brother's death, Nat formed a new band headlining in Japan, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. As a poorly controlled diabetic, his health started to decline in the early 1990s. In 1997, he was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in Kansas City, and that same year diabetes claimed his right leg. Further complications from the disease led to his death at age 68. Nat's son, Nat Adderley, Jr, became a third generation musician playing the keyboard for Luther Vandross.
Bio by: Linda Davis