When you put on any record by Julian “Cannonball” Adderley you never really know what style you’re going to get. His sound can be described as Free Jazz, as he teeters between a straight ahead style, to something that resembles a blues, soulful sound, but certainly not limited to delving into an abstract realm for a song or two. This observation proves itself in the Adderley album The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free, which was recorded in 1970. This album truly has it all, as it jumps in and out of multiple jazz sub-genres from fusion to blues to abstract to solo, even at times touching on a vocal jazz, soul, and folk.

This album is not credited as a live album, but it has great elements of a live recording, as the reactions and cheers from the crowd make you feel like you were right in the venue. In many of his live recordings, Cannonball Adderley would do an excellent job playing host and providing the comic relief by sometimes giving the song an impromptu introduction, which he does multiple times on this album. One thing that was a constant about Adderley’s performance was that he put the joy in music. He gave the impression of jazz being fun music, and you can hear his exuberance through his playing. As a side note, if you consider yourself a hip hop fan on any level, you have probably heard an element of this album. A small vocal sample from A Tribe Called Quest‘s classic debut single Bonita Applebaum came from this album, the vocal sample you hear at the end of Bonita Applebaum that goes “sex…sex…sex…” is in the introduction of this album.

The album The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free is only four tracks, but it contains many songs within the tracks. It is truly a musical journey, and it is an excellent listen, not to mention an amazing recording just for the fact that all these various styles are coming from the same group. Cannonball Adderley – alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, vocals, his brother (and usual side man) Nat Adderley on the cornet and vocals, legendary keyboardists who would later be the head behind the group Weather Report, Joe Zawinul on the piano, electric piano, and ring modulator, Walter Booker and Bob West on the bass, Roy McCurdy on the drums, and Nat Adderley, Jr. (who would later go on to be a star music arranger, working with Luther Vandross on Never Too Much) on the piano, electric piano, vocals. As a side note, Nat Adderley, Jr. was the tender age of 15 at the time of this recording, and his vocal cut on this album is the title track.

Cannonball Adderley’s death was untimely in more ways than one. Even though he had a full career playing with the most legendary names in jazz, from Miles Davis (Adderley played on Davis’ Kind of Blue) to John Coltrane, Adderley was only 46 years old when he died. What made his passing even more unfortunate was the timing of his death, which was 1975, an era where many jazz legends of the 60’s, like Adderley, were really beginning to progress into the new sound of jazz with experimentation, fusion, and electronic adaptation. You can hear the unique combination of progressiveness when listening to Adderley during the early 70’s, and it would have been interesting to hear his musical direction in the late 70’s and beyond. Roy Ayers would dedicate his album Mystic Voyage to Cannonball Adderley, and Nat Adderley would out live his brother by 25 years. Although Cannonball Adderley’s life was cut short, he left a vast musical catalog for the world to enjoy and appreciate.

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A1 Soul Virgo 1:46
A2 Rumpelstiltskin 5:11
A3 Inquisition 2:15
A4 Devastatement 2:55
A5 Pra Dizer Adeus 2:49

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B1 The Price You Got To Pay To Be Free 4:40
B2 Some Time Ago 4:29
B3 Exquisition 4:00
B4 Painted Desert 6:11
B5 Directions 1:07

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C1 Down In Black Bottom 5:17
C2 1-2-3-Go-O-O-O 4:41
C3 Lonesome Stranger 1:55
C4 Get Up Off Your Knees 4:59
C5 Wild-Cat Pee 3:10

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D1 Alto Sex 1:42
D2 Bridges 4:45
D3 Out And In 5:40
D4 Together 6:31
D5 The Scene 0:30


Cannonball Adderley (Photo by Robert Polillo)
Written by @Haylow

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