Cornet, b.1931 d.2000, Tampa, Florida
Nathaniel Adderley Tampa, Florida was an American jazz cornetist who played in the hard bop and soul jazz genres. He was the brother of saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.
In the 1950s he worked with his brother’s original group, with Lionel Hampton, and with J. J. Johnson, then in 1959 joined his brother’s new group and stayed with it until Cannonball’s death in 1975. He composed “Work Song,” “Jive Samba,” and “The Old Country” for this group.
After his brother’s death he led his own groups and recorded extensively. During this period he worked with, among others, Ron Carter, Sonny Fortune, Johnny Griffin, Antonio Hart, and Vincent Herring.
On his passing in 2000, Nat Adderley was interred near his brother in the Southside Cemetery in Tallahassee, Florida.
Clarinet, b.1915 d.1996, New London, CT
Tenor Sax, b.1929, Huntington, WV
Vocal, b.1919 d.1981, Philadelphia, PA
Arranger, Composer, b.1934, London, England
Alto Sax, b.1924 d.1977, San Francisco, CA
Paul Desmond was a jazz saxophonist and composer. He came to prominence with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, which lasted from 1951 until 1967. Desmond penned the quartet’s biggest hit, “Take Five”, and his sound was so important to pianist Brubeck that Desmond, when recording as a leader, was contractually prohibited from employing a piano.
Desmond was born Paul Emil Breitenfeld but changed his name because he felt it wasn’t suited to a musician, and reportedly picked his new name out of a telephone book.
Desmond’s sound was a clear, light, and floating sound, and his style was melodic. He loved gentle ballads and would often float off into horizontal until awakened by his bandmates. Much of the success of the classic quartet was due to the superposition of his airy style over Brubeck’s sometimes relatively heavy, polytonal piano work.
Desmond also collaborated with Gerry Mulligan, Jim Hall, Chet Baker, Ed Bickert and others over the years. After the break-up of the Quartet in 1967, he retired for a while, then began to resurface in occasional reunions with Brubeck, Mulligan, and Hall, in a Christmas concert with the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1971, and in other collaborations. His gift for improvised counterpoint is perhaps most notable on the two albums he recorded with Mulligan (“Mulligan-Desmond Quartet” and “Two of a Mind”).
In addition to his playing, he was known for his wit, as reflected in the liner notes for his solo albums, and as recollected by others. He was rumoured for several years to be writing an autobiography, but one never surfaced. He died in 1977, not of his heavy alcohol habit but of lung cancer. Desmond had been a heavy smoker. Always witty, after he was diagnosed with cancer, he expressed pleasure at the health of his liver. “Pristine, one of the great livers of our time. Awash in Dewar’s and full of health.” His last concert was with Brubeck in February 1977, in New York City. His fans didn’t know that he was already dying.
Drums, b.1946, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Trombone, b.1925 d.1979, Houston, TX
Vocal, b.1928 d.2001, Aiken, SC
Etta Jones was an American jazz singer whose critical success and relative commercial obscurity (she never had a hit record) earned her a reputation in her lifetime as a “jazz musician’s jazz singer”.
Jones is noted for her elegant interpretations of standards, ballads, and blues. Her characteristic inflections have sometimes prompted comparisons to stylistic devices employed by Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Jones’ recordings, particularly her debut record (Don’t Go To Strangers, 1960), have earned wide admiration in a new generation of listeners.
Jones was married to tenor player Houston Person.
She died at the age of 72 from cancer.
Willie “The Lion” Smith
Piano, Composer, b.1897 d.1973, Goshen, NY
Willie “The Lion” Smith was an American jazz pianist and one of the masters of the stride style.
Smith, who was Black and Jewish, was born as William Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff Smith in Goshen, New York. His father, Frank Bertholoff, was Jewish.
By the early 1910s he was playing in New York City and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Smith served in World War I, where he saw action in France, and played drum with the African-American regimental band led by Tim Brymn. Legend has it that his nickname “The Lion” came from his reported bravery while serving as a heavy artillery gunner. He was a decorated veteran.
He returned to New York City after the war, where he worked for decades, often as a soloist, sometimes in bands and accompanying blues singers such as Mamie Smith. Although working in relative obscurity, he was a “musician’s musician,” influencing countless others including Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, and Artie Shaw.
In the 1940s his music found appreciation with a wider audience, and he toured North America and Europe through 1971. Willie “The Lion” Smith died in New York City.
William McLeish Smith
Alto Sax, b.1910 d.1967, Charleston, South Carolina
William Smith was one of the major alto saxophone players of the swing era. He also played clarinet and sang. He is generally referred to as “Willie Smith”.
Willie Smith’s first instrument was clarinet and his education was in chemistry. He received his chemistry degree from Fisk University. Nevertheless in 1929 he became an alto saxophonist for Jimmie Lunceford’s band. He would be one of the main stars in Lunceford’s group and in 1940 had his own quintet as a side project. His success with Lunceford had lost its charms by 1942 as he now wanted more pay and less travel. He then switched to Harry James’s orchestra, where he made more money, and stayed with him for seven years. After that he later worked with Duke Ellington and Billy May. In 1954 he returned to Harry James’s band. Added to all this he was involved in Jazz at the Philharmonic and worked with Nat King Cole. He died of cancer in 1967.
William “O’Neill” Spencer
Drums, b.1909 d.1944, Cedarville, OH
William “O’Neill” Spencer was a jazz drummer and singer. He is most known for his work in the John Kirby Sextet.
He began with work for Al Sears and from 1931 to 1936 he worked with the Mills Blue Rhythm Band. He joined Kirby’s group in 1937, but had to leave for a time in 1941 due to tuberculosis. He rejoined in 1942 staying until 1943, but died soon after the disease.
Trumpet, b.1966, Miami, FL
Piano, b.1927 d.1987, Greenwich, CT