Nat Adderley Jr. Quintet

by Amber Thomas

When searching for a jazz concert, it appeared that a local club called B-Sharp’s Jazz Café was the place to go! The closest upcoming event was on April 14 featuring the Nat Adderley, Jr. Quintet and after a little research I knew I had to see this iconic jazz figure (son of the famous Nat Adderley) and his band.

When the date finally arrived, I was a little apprehensive at the thought that I would be going to an unfamiliar part of town, alone. When I walked into the cute little house-turned-club, I was greeted by a kind gentleman with a welcoming smile. I sat down at a small table towards the back of the room-notebook, pen, and Diet Coke in hand. I was approached by a man who handed me a small green sheet of paper that turned out to be a coupon for a free hug, to be given to any participating human being. I softly chuckled at the thought of it and instantly felt welcome. The man proceeded to the drums, and played a tune as if to bring in “the mood”. This man, I would soon learn, was the drummer of the Nat Adderley, Jr. Quintet, Von Barlow.

A few minutes later, after everyone had ordered drinks and one of the featured appetizers of their choice, the lights were dimmed. Then, the gentleman who welcomed me in got up to introduce Nat Adderley, Jr. and his crew. First was Nat Adderley, Jr., himself, on the piano. Next was Ricky Robello -bass, Von Barlow -drums, Diron Halloway-alto saxophone, and Longineu Parson-trumpet. The band started off facing each other with Adderley counting “ah-one, ah-two, ah-one, two, three, four”…and then it began. The saxophone, drums and bass started off the song slowly and softly. Then the trumpet and piano joined in and the number went into a passionate crescendo. I remember watching Adderley pouncing his fingers on the piano like an excited bunny rabbit, shrugging his shoulders with enthusiasm and Diron Halloway, with his eye closed as he played his sax. The most beautiful and memorable sound was the sax and trumpet, playing the melody in unison, climax after climax. The audience burst into applause after each climax and was especially intrigued by Adderley’s impressive solo on the piano. Looking around, almost everyone was either tapping their foot or bobbing their head along with the music, sometimes both. I even caught myself tapping my foot along with the beat, which was surprising considering I was a complete virgin to this genre.

What was so amazing was there was absolutely no sheet music. All of the songs were played out of memorization and improvisation, fueled by sheer emotion. It was evident that the group absolutely loved what they were playing and had a passion about it that was contagious to their audience. I got the impression that everyone who attended came there to take a load off and recharge his or her batteries. Although most of the group members and the audience have probably never met, they instantly had a connection through music. They identify with this genre and the hope that it is known to give. In an article by Terry Teachout, he confirms this idea by saying:

Jazz has been a relatively safe haven from the storms of ideology, a meritocracy of comrades in which, as musicians say, “every tub sits on its own bottom,” and artists are not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their choruses. No such society-within-a-society is perfect, and jazz is no exception; but those who have lived and worked in its environs know how close it has come to the ideal (Teachout).

This semester I have been able to venture beyond my boundaries, beyond the comforts of my day-to-day music. Through my research of jazz, I have learned to love this genre and what it stands for. It has evolved and progressed into this intangible thing that allows its listeners to engage in a musical community, and I saw this first-hand when I attended this concert.


B-Sharp's Jazz Cafe Website
Nat Adderley Jr. Performance

Nat Adderley, Jr.-piano, Longineu Parson- trumpet, Diron Halloway-alto saxophone, Rocky Robello-bass, & Von Barlow-drums. Pictured by Amber Thomas
“I see my life playing the piano” -Nat Adderley, Jr.

Work Cited can be found on main page entitled "Live Jazz"
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