- Faith & Family
Nat Adderley, Jr., knows full well the pressures that come with being born into a talented family. His father was the acclaimed composer and jazz cornet/trumpet player Nat Adderley while his uncle was Florida’s own Cannonball Adderley — the world-renowned jazz alto saxophonist. But it was at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City where a chance meeting with another student would alter the trajectory of his life.
The student was Luther Vandross and the talented pianist, Adderley, would later serve as the music arranger for Vandross’s 1981 gold-selling album, Never Too Much. Adderley would continue to work with Vandross, among other R&B greats, until a 2003 stroke ended the singer’s career. Fortunately for us, it was not the end for Adderley. In fact, he says he had an epiphany after Vandross’s stroke.
“Following my family tradition was tough but I was determined to have my own voice too,” he said. “Plus I guess I was a bit eccentric — even strange. When I finished college I went right into pop and R&B. I was a Motown, Beatles, Philly Sound kind of musician. I even did some theater as musical director and had a play on Broadway, “Gotta Go Disco,” that lasted all of four days. Still, I kept dabbling in jazz but kept making excuses for why I didn’t want to commit to performing it. Luther kept me pretty busy.”
Unable to escape the jazz bug
Finally after great consternation, Adderley says he realized that he had to return to his jazz roots.
“I returned to jazz about four years ago — I had to keep the music of my family alive and represent it,” he said. “I like to do jazz arrangements of pop tunes so that the music is more accessible to the younger generations. But of course I do the traditional jazz tunes too.
Adderley will hit the stage on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts to honor the birthday of his uncle, Cannonball — a Florida legend who taught at Dillard High School in Ft. Lauderdale before moving to New York City and playing with such legends as Ray Charles, Yusef Lateef and Miles Davis [He died from a stroke in 1975 and would have been 84 on Sept. 15th].
“You can’t tell from the radio stations these days, but overseas and in places like New York City or LA jazz is still very much respected as the classical art form that it is. Jazz is still alive and well and moving forward in all kinds of amazing directions. And I am proud to be part of that movement.”
Adderley will be joined by quintet members: Roy McCurdy, drums; Vincent Herring, alto sax; Longineu Parsons, trumpet; and Trevor Ware, bass. For information call 954-462-0222.
By D. Kevin McNeir