Julian "Cannonball" Adderley became one of the highly respected alto saxophonists of the hard bop and soul-jazz eras. Indeed, with his bluesy wail and accessible style he was one of jazz's most popular and visible artists in the late '60s and into the '70s before his death from a stroke.
Originally from Tampa, he and his brother Nat, a cornetist, grew up in Tallahassee FL, both of them earning early professional experience in the early '40s backing Ray Charles in Florida. Cannon moved to Ft Lauderdale for awhile before a move to NYC in '55, the year he first recorded as a leader. He first joined Miles Davis' group in '57 and was featured on Kind of Blue and Milestones. His own album from '58, Something Else (Blue Note), featured Miles as a sideman and is a bonafide jazz classic.
Cannon's own groups & sessions in the late '50s and '60s featured several great musicians, including Nat, John Coltrane, Yusef Lateef, Bill Evans, Joe Zawinul, Art Blakey and others. He started leading a big band in '61 (check African Waltz) and took in some bossa nova influences soon after. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" was a huge soul-jazz jukebox hit in '66 and his later work showed influences of pop, avant-garde and funk, even if sometimes the results sounded fadish, the tunes were still good. (Check out the groovy Country Preacher album, a benefit for Rev Jesse Jackson's Operation Breadbasket). He also doubled on soprano for some situations.
"Jive Samba", "Sack O' Woe", "Walk Tall" and brother Nat's "Work Song" were all big hits out of the book of Cannon's band. In his career, he also worked with Oscar Pettiford, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan, Sergio Mendes, Lou Rawls and many others.