Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Julian’s Undreamt “Dream”

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Some professional athletes dream of getting the home run in the bottom of the 9th inning that wins baseball’s World Series for their team while others may dream of throwing the touchdown pass that wins the football Super Bowl.

Actors and actresses dream of winning Academy Awards, Emmys and Tonys; authors may dream of being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature; artists may dream of having their paintings shown in prestigious museums and galleries.

One might consider a Grammy award to be comparable dream for a Jazz musician, although judging by the company they would be keeping by doing so, I doubt that many Jazz musicians would think so.

For a Jazz musician, perhaps a far better dream scenario might be to walk into a prestigious Jazz club as a virtual unknown while just happening to have your horn with you, being asked by the band leader to sit-in and then proceeding to blow the house down, thus becoming an overnight sensation and the-talk-of-the-town.

In the case of Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, the alto saxophonist had no need for such a dream because he actually lived such an experience; hence the play-on-words title of this piece.

Here’s the story as quoted in Kenny Mathieson’s Cookin’: Hard Bop and Soul Jazz, 1954-1965 [p. 127]:

Julian 'Cannonball’ Adderley made his New York debut at the Cafe Bohemia in June, 1955, a moment which has gone down in jazz legend. It is a much told tale, but one that bears repeating. Julian and his brother, trumpeter Nat Adderley, had journeyed from their home in Florida to New York to spend some time in the city soaking up the jazz scene. At the time, the trumpeter had worked briefly with Lionel Hampton, but the saxophonist was a total stranger on the New York stage. They made their way directly to Cafe Bohemia, where bassist Oscar Pettiford held the residency. His current saxophonist, Jerome Richardson, was absent, and the band began without him. As Nat Adderley patiently explained for doubtless the millionth time when I spoke to him in 1997, what happened next has taken up permanent residence in jazz lore.

Julian and myself had our horns with us, not because we expected to play, but we didn't want to leave them in the car - this was New York, right? So what happened then was that Charlie Rouse came into the club, and when Oscar saw him come in, he called him over to sit in for Jerome. Charlie didn't have his horn, but Oscar had seen that we had our cases, so he sent Charlie over to borrow the horn. That was Oscar for you, I guess. But the thing was, Charlie knew Julian - he had met him in Florida, and knew that he could play. So Charlie said to Oscar that Julian didn't want anybody else to be blowing his horn, but he would sit in instead. Now, Oscar wasn't real happy about that, but he let him come up, then he called I’ll Remember April at a real fast tempo. I'm talking murderous, man. And Julian just flew across the top, and left everybody with their mouths hanging open.

Our good friend, Jack Tracy, produced the 1959 Cannonball and Coltrane album for Emarcy from which the audio track on the following video is taken.  The tune is Grand Central by John Coltrane. Jack wished at the time that he had thought to call the album ‘Ball and ‘Trane. Although Jack didn't realize his wish, he made a lot of other wishes come through with this album because, aside from their work with Miles Davis, this is the only time these two Giants of Jazz recorded together.