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Cannonball Adderley Sextet

The Cannonball Adderley Sextet was a jazz group that was made up of Cannonball Adderley playing the alto saxophone, Nat Adderley on the cornet, Yusef Lateef who played the tenor sax, flute and oboe, Joe Zawinul on the piano, Sam Jones on the bass and, last but not least, Louis Hayes playing the drums. Together they formed the iconic jazz bands of the 60’s with a myriad of popular albums and singles. The band’s performance was recorded in the town of Baden-Baden in Germany in March 1963 and showcases some of the group’s best songs such as Jessica’s Birthday, Angel Eyes and Jive Samba.

Cannonball Adderley Sextet - Live In Germany 1963

“Jessica’s Day” is a very upbeat and lively song with the horns played by (artist) taking the lead in the piece. The piano, drums and bass, played by Zawinul, Hayes and Jones, respectively provide the fast tempo and rhythm of the song. The piece can be seen as a series of solos by each of the horns beginning with Cannonball on the tenor sax, which sets the pace of the song from the beginning. The other sax and the cornet then take over in succession. The cornet’s solo is the most pronounced and longest, in which Nat Adderley delivers a series of improvised jazz and blues riffs, and progressions that showcase his talent and prowess. After this solo, there is a slight reduction in the tempo with the tenor sax playing a softer and mellower tune that lulls the audience into a sort of contented state with the other instruments providing the backup to the part. As this solo progress, the other horns join in with some lively harmonies and ad lib that serves to pick up the mood again. The drums and the piano also have their break in, which (pianist) has a chance to play some quick progressions with the bass providing the rhythm and harmony.

The piece “Angel Eyes” has a standard AABA form, which uses second fifth and first major progressions throughout the song. All the A sections are in the scale of C minor with the progression going from C minor to Ab7 and later G7. “Angel Eyes” is a slow and mellow song that has a more soulful and sad timbre to it. Lateef takes up the flute, and he sets the mood of the piece by playing soft and slow melodies. The bass is the main accompaniment to the flute, but the piano also chimes in to give harmony and finish up some of the progressions in the piece in tandem with the flute. The flute played by Lateef takes the lead for the whole piece, and its somber sound gives the song a very gloomy and reserved feel. The horns play a suppressed role in the song only coming in a few times to harmonize with the flute.

The song “Jive Samba” has a steady 4/4 rhythm and is a bit faster in tempo than “Angel Eyes” but is still relatively slow and deliberate. The other sax takes the lead in this piece, and its improvisations and interchanging of fast and slow riffs serve to give the song its “dance” effect. Although the song is slow and mellow at the beginning, it gradually progresses to a more fast paced and strong composition with the culmination with the cornet coming in with a bright and lively solo that is the climax of the song. Adderley has a series of riffs that are agile and spritely but come to an abrupt halt after which Lateef takes over with the flute to return the piece to its initial laidback and soft style.

“Jive Samba”

The song “Jive Samba” has a steady progression starting off slow and then building up to a fast paced improvised crescendo mainly led by Nat Adderley and the other horns. The solo by Nat is successful in that it provides a strong climax for the song while still not overpowering the other instruments or sounding too loud. It starts quite fast and later only gets faster, and its abrupt end gives a dramatic effect to the piece.


The performance by the Cannonball Adderley Sextet is an amazing set of songs that takes the audience on a journey with many musical ups and downs. The gradually rising tempos followed by the soft anticlimaxes make any listener happy and appreciate jazz music as presented by the band.

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