Cannonball- Giants Who Visit

So much debate about who is best in jazz. It’s not a sport. But there are some Gifted ones who bring a message. They usually don’t stay long.  Armed with technique and substance, soul and swing, they say, “I can’t stay long, but I’m gonna leave this for y’all right here.”  Cannonball was one of those.    

Oscar Pettiford was upset. Jerome Richardson was late.  Somebody said that guy has a sax. Cannon didn’t want to lend his horn he said. I want to play. Oscar was pissed.  So Pettiford stomped off “I’ll Remember April” fast as hell to show this country kid. The rest is history. Cannonball sits in for the first time in Big Apple: 

 “But instead of falling on his face, the big man (Cannonball) with the big sound unleashed a torrent of notes that stunned those in attendance -- zipping through the melody like a cheetah and flying over the chord changes like a hurdle jumper. 

“This young man got up there and sailed right through it,” says Hentoff, the critic who saw it with his own eyes. 

After a few other songs, the saxophonist brought his brother onstage as well. By then, people were racing to use the phone, says Cooper, the Adderleys’ friend. 

“Everybody was calling somebody else to tell them what was happening,” Cooper says. 

Hentoff knew exactly what was happening. He had never seen it before, and he hasn’t seen it since. 

“It was very clear that night -- we didn’t even know his name -- that this guy was making it,” he says. 

Saxophonist Phil Woods was there and knew what it was, too: Bad news for him and fellow sax player Jackie McLean. 

“Jackie and I were in the back listening to this son of a ----- play saxophone like no human being had played it before,” Woods told Judy Smith, a Chicago writer working on a biography of the Adderleys.

Leave a comment