Concert pays tribute to Adderly brothers

Nathaniel “Nat” Adderley and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley tribute cover.
Photo courtesy: Nadia Lloyd

The FAMU Jazz Ensemble performed a note-filled night of blues, folk, and traditional works on Thursday. Displaying the timeless embrace of jazz history, they paid homage to the legendary Adderley brothers in an unforgettable concert, recognizing the naming of the Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and Nathaniel “Nat” Adderley Music Institute.

With a fusion of soulful melodies, intricate improvisation, and infectious rhythms, this was a musical journey that reverberated with the spirit and innovation of the ensemble.

This celebration of jazz pioneers included 15 pieces that were able to reach multiple audiences. The FAMU Jazz Ensemble performs at conventions and festivals. It also tours and is often called upon when an event wants a jazz group with an artistic style. This event included special guests such as Nat Adderley Jr. and Joe Goldberg. The performance included the iconic sounds of “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” and “Fly Me to The Moon.” The ensemble treated guests with an experience of the timeless brilliance of this musical legacy. Second-year music education major Grace Macfoy has been playing alto saxophone since the fourth grade. She said this event is extremely important to her.

“I have been playing for 10 years. I’ve only been playing jazz for two. This event is giving me the opportunity to showcase my musical versatility and play a jazz solo for the first time,” Macfoy said. “African American jazz musicians equipped us with timeless jazz language to learn from and mimic, which helps us create beautiful music.”

The Adderley brothers were Tampa natives and later migrated to Tallahassee where their parents, Julian and Jessee Adderley, both taught in the Leon County school system. Nat graduated from FAMU with a degree in sociology while his brother Cannonball served in the U.S. Army as a band member. After performing with Oscar Pettiford in the 1950s, the brothers were signed to their first contract and soared as musicians in New York. According to the Historical Marker Database, the brothers served as ambassadors for FAMU and the city of Tallahassee for over 15 years, and have an amphitheater named after them at Cascades Park. Brandon Moody, a second-year computer engineering student and trumpet player, appreciated this event and what it means for the future of the jazz band.

“I’m really happy to hear how much the jazz band has grown from the last couple of years because I remember the jazz band used to be the band that really ran over the music department,” Moody said.

He says that he knows the Adderly brothers have a great history with the school. “They have a real rich involvement within FAMU and the jazz band. It’s good to see a more modern representation of them, especially bringing out his son. It’s really just nice to see the involvement and morale of what kind of binds everybody together which is the love of music, jazz in particular,” Moody said.

The FAMU Jazz Ensemble has recently received multiple awards at the Crescent City Jazz Festival for outstanding student soloist and performed with legendary trombonist Wycliffe Gordon.