Nathaniel Adderley always had a flare for music. In fact, he began playing the trumpet when he was just a teenage boy in 1946. Four years later, he switched to the smaller cornet.From 1951-53 he played in the U.S. Army band led by his brother, saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. He then played a year with Lionel Hampton’s big band from 1954-55. The following year he played with his brother’s first quintet and then toured with J.J. Johnson’s group and the Woody Herman band.
In October of 1959, at the height of the popularity of hard bop, Nat and Cannonball got together to create their second quintet; one that proved to be a success from the start.
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet made famous some of Nat’s songs, such as “Jive Samba” and “Sermonette.” The two brothers not only created a superb quintet but also pioneered a sub-genre known as “soul jazz.” Nat not only composed, played cornet, and managed the band’s money, but he also took care of his older brother.
After Cannonball’s death in 1975, Nat left the quintet and temporarily retired. However, he began to lead his own groups in 1976 and worked with such people as Ron Carter, Sonny Fortune, Johnny Griffin, and Vincent Herring.
Nat continued in the music industry until he lost his right leg to complications from diabetes, a disease that eventually led to his death in January of 2000. He is now buried near his brother in the Southside Cemetery of Tallahassee Florida.