Anyone who puts together a list of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th Century would surely include the great alto saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, whose music was an important bridge between hard bop and more modern jazz.
Influenced by Charlie Parker, Adderley was a crucial part of the Miles Davis Sextet in the late 1950s, playing alongside tenor sax giant John Coltrane on the “Milestones” and “Kind of Blue” albums. By the end of that decade, he reunited with his brother, cornetist Nat Adderley, with whom he had played earlier, to form the Cannonball Adderley Quintet.
The group later became a sextet, and one of most lively jazz bands of the 60s, drawing on the blues, gospel, funk with bebop and making recordings that would influence generations of musicians. Among them is Twin Cities sax player Doug Haining, whose group The Cannonball Collective performs tonight at Jazz Central in Minneapolis. Joining him on stage will be Keith Boyles on bass; Zack Lozier, cornet; Tanner Taylor, piano; and Mac Santiago, drums.
I recently asked Haining five questions about the musician they honor. Here’s our conversation:
David Cazares: What drew you to the music of Cannonball Adderley?
Doug Haining: The first thing that struck me was his sound. It is huge — soulful and sassy while at the same time a very “trained” and “proper” saxophone tone. The second thing that drew me in with Cannonball is how tight the band was. They found the pocket, or groove, of every tune and stay there. Everyone was on the same page, and they all played a role. Cannonball was the leader, and the star, but when they played as a group, he played a supporting role more often than not, because his brother Nat would have the melody. I also like how the band drives the feel and builds momentum and energy in everything they play. This is in contrast to my other main influences such as Johnny Hodges and Lester Young, who were a lot more laid back, feel-wise. Finally, I just love how Cannonball plays ballads. He obviously studied the lyrics of all the ballads he played because he cut right to the emotion of the song.
Cazares: Did his inventiveness provided a bridge to the present?
Haining: Cannonball took a little something from everyone he played with. When he joined Miles Davis in the late 50’s he was mainly a blues and hard bop player, but Miles steered him towards a more modern (at the time) modal style. He never left his blues roots, but you can hear the modal influence in his later playing in the mid 60s. In the mid to late 60s he migrated more towards a funky style that influenced a lot of players who came later. Guys like Kenny Garrett and Antonio Hart are a couple who come to mind that are current players who were heavily influenced by Cannonball’s playing.
Cazares: How did the collective come together?
Haining: I’ve been wanting to do a revue of Cannonball’s music for a number of years, but never found the right band to do it until a couple of years ago. As you may know, Jazz Central was opened about 2 and half years ago now, by local musicians Mac Santiago (drummer) and Tanner Taylor (piano). They host a session every Monday night where a featured horn player gets a set with the house rhythm section (Tanner, Mac, and currently the bassist is Matt Peterson). Following the feature set, they open up the room for a jam session for anyone who cares to join in. It has been a fabulous melting pot of younger and older musicians coming together to play in combinations that never happen in the music business world. I have been extremely fortunate to be featured on a number of the Monday sessions, and met trumpeter Zack Lozier through those sessions. Zack and I hit it off musically, and we complement each other extremely nicely. We also mesh well with the house rhythm section. It was obvious then that I needed to do something with that group, so I petitioned the TC Jazz Society to perform one of their “Jazz From J to Z” concerts and was awarded a concert in 2012. We’ve played 2 public performances so far, and this upcoming show at Jazz Central on December 5 will be the third. I hope to continue playing with this group, expanding the repertoire, and hopefully introducing some original compositions as well. One of the things about Cannonball’s bands that impresses me is that he always asked his band members to compose for the band, and they did. Some of the great bebop classics came from Cannonball’s band members.
Cazares: How faithful are you staying to his compositions and style?
Haining: We started as a tribute band, and originally stayed fairly close to the style of Cannonball’s compositions. As we grow as a band, I expect to take those ideas and morph into more of our own interpretation of his works. We are already doing that on several of the tunes.
Cazares: What numbers particularly appeal to you?
Haining: One of my favorites is a tune called “Dizzy’s Business,” composed by Ernie Wilkins. This appeals to me because Ernie wrote and played with the Count Basie band, another band that has influenced me as a musician. Another tune is a blues called “Spontaneous Combustion” written by Cannonball. It has an earthy feel that captures the bluesy side of Cannonball’s music. One of my favorite ballads is Cole Porter’s “I Worship You,” off of the “Domination” LP. This tune is one we are taking in a slightly different direction from the Cannonball version. I have really enjoyed covering his tunes, but more than that, I have enjoyed the collaboration with the other musicians in the band, who are all like brothers to me. It is a joy being around them and making music with them, and the sound we put out is infectious and joyous. There’s a lot of love on stage when we get together, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Photo of Doug Haining by Brooks Peterson