CANNONBALL ADERLEY: Legend of John Henry (CD)

  • Tenor Saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley Is One of the Greatest Ever to Play the Instrument
  • His Final Project Was Big Man, a Musical Play Based on the Legend of John Henry
  • Released as a 2-LP Set with a Libretto, BigMan Featured Music from Adderley and His Then-Current Musical Associates Including Brother Nat Adderley, George Duke (Using the Alias “Dawilli Gonga”), Roy McCurdy, Airto Moreira, Carol Kaye and others
  • Vocal Cast Included Lead Vocalist Joe Williams,
    Randy Crawford (Making Her Professional Debut) and Robert Guillaume (Soap, Benson)
  • Our Real Gone Reissue Features Liner Notes by Bill Kopp Boasting Quotes from Robert Guillaume Plus the Full Libretto
  • Remastered by Joe Tarantino
  • Worldwide CD Debut

In what would turn out to be the final years of his short life, jazz great Julian “Cannonball” Adderley embarked on a number of ambitious, genre-stretching projects. The last of these was 1975's Big Man, the score for a musical play based on the John Henry (“the steel driving man”) American folk legend. The album was released as a two-LP set with libretto, and featured music from Adderley and his then-current musical associates including brother Nat Adderley, George Duke (using the alias “Dawilli Gonga”), Roy McCurdy, Airto Moreira, Carol Kaye and others.

The sessions also made full use of a large string section and chorus, while the primary vocalists in Big Man sang and read their lines in character; the vocal cast included lead vocalist Joe Williams, Randy Crawford (making her professional debut on record here at age 21), and Robert Guillaume (later to win two Emmy Awards for his work on TV series Soap and Benson, and a Grammy Award for his work connected to The Lion King). Long out of print and never before issued on CD, Real Gone Music's reissue of Big Man boasts liner notes by Bill Kopp (Kopp also penned the liners for RGM's first Adderley reissue, The Black Messiah) with quotes from Robert Guillaume, and the full libretto, with remastering by Joe Tarantino. The final artistic statement from a jazz giant!

1. Overture

2. Anybody Need a Big Man

3. Who Bend the Rainbow

4. Forty More Miles to Go/Rouster’s Chant

5. Ten Mile of Mountain/Recitative: Who Up in Heaven

6. Dialogue (Carolina)

7. Gonna Give Lovin’ a Try

8. The Broomstick Song

9. Next Year in Jerusalem

10.Dialogue (Carolina, John Henry)

11.Stayin’ Place (Intro)

12.Stayin’ Place

13.Dialogue (Carolina)

14.A New Star Risin’

15.The Steamdrill Race (Intro)

16.Anybody Need a Big Man

17.Grind Your Own Coffee

18.Anybody Need a Big Man/Dialogue (Deputy)

19.Hundred An’ One Year/M’Ria


21.A New Star Risin’

22.Dialogue (Carolina & Jassawa)

23.Hundred An’ One Year/M’Ria

24.Recitative: Born Black

25.Dialogue (Jassawa)


27.Dialogue (John Henry & Bull Maree)

28.The Streamdrill Race

29.We Saved/Dialogue (Carolina)

30.Jesus Where You Now?

31.If I Was Jehovah

32.On His Bones (Finale)

Leave a Reply