BHM 16 – Pianist Nat Adderley, Jr. History Maker and Making History

Black History Month Celebration 16 – 2021 Pianist Nat Adderley, Jr. History Maker and Making History This series will cover those making history and historical Black Figures, events, activities and of course music related if possible. We should remember and not lose what we accomplished. Enjoy Black History Month.

Nat Adderley Jr is our local history maker with a Black History Musical lineage that goes way back in time. Born to  jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley, Sr. He was the younger brother of saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, whom he supported and played with for many years. He and Cannonball played with Ray Charles in the early 1940s in Tallahassee.

1986 Nat Adderley Jr with Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller

Nat Adderley Jr had long career with music greats like Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller. Above is rare piece of rehearsal studio work with Vandross and producer Marcus Miller, and Songwriter Nat Adderley Jr. The song features on Vandross’s “Give Me The Reason” album, which also featured “So Amazing”

Pianist Nat Adderley, Jr. Trio in South Orange NJ

A recent performance from our friend and neighbor performing here in South Orange, NJ

Music arranger and pianist Nat Adderley, Jr. was born on May 23, 1955 to Nat Adderley, Sr. and Ann James in Quincy, Florida. Adderley attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan, New York. In high school, he performed and wrote music for his father’s group, the Cannonball Adderley Quintet. Adderley also worked as a keyboardist for R&B singer Valerie Simpson. Adderley earned his B.A. degree in African American studies from Yale University in 1977.

In 1981, Adderley became the music director for Luther Vandross. Adderley arranged the music for Vandross’ 1981 album, Never Too Much on the songs “Never Too Much” and “Sugar and Spice (I Found Me a Girl).” He then co-wrote the song “Better Love” for Vandross’ 1982 album, Forever, for Always, for Love. In 1984, Adderley arranged “Superstar,” as well as “If Only for One Night” and “Creepin’” for Vandross’ album, The Night I Fell In Love. He co-wrote Vandross’ first top twenty hit, “Stop to Love” and arranged the songs “So Amazing” and “Give Me The Reason” from the album, Give Me The Reason. In 1988, Adderley arranged the songs “I Wonder” and “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” for Vandross’ album, Any Love. The album was nominated for a 1989 Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Adderley also played keyboard for Vandross’ 1991 Grammy award winning album, Power of Love.

He produced Vandross’ albums Your Secret LoveLuther Vandross, and the Grammy award winning album, Dance with My Father. Adderley arranged Vandross’ 2003 Grammy award-winning duet with Beyonce Knowles, “The Closer I Get to You,” which won for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. He then produced the live album, Luther’s Live 2003 at Radio City Music Hall.

More at History Makers

Many other artists have had major successes with help from Nat Adderley Jr.  Nat wrote “The Wave” for Kirk Whalum, arranged Natalie Cole’s 1987 hit recording of “When I Fall In Love”, produced “Just Another Lonely Night” for Johnny Gill, arranged most of Aretha Franklin’s album Jump To It, produced Gloria Lynne’s album No Detour Ahead, and did the string arrangement for Doc Powell’s Grammy-nominated version of “What’s Going On”. 

Also, Nat produced tracks for the Temptations’ CD “Awesome” (2001), and Ruben Studdard’s “Love Is” (2009).