How to Play Work Song by Nat Adderley and Oscar Peterson Jr.

Nat Adderley, the trumpet playing brother of Cannonball Adderley, wrote “Work Song” for an album by the same name released by Riverside in 1960. Be sure to pay close attention to the hits for the rhythm section on the head. This lesson is based off the recording below.

This website his several resources for you on how to play this tune.

First and foremost, I encourage you to learn the melody from the recording. You may need to practice it several times to memorize it. You can use a real book or iRealB, but sometimes the chords are wrong, so I advise to use the recording first.

Once you’ve learned the melody and play along, I would advise you to start learning the chords.

After learning the chords, including the hits for the head, I would advise to learn the piano voicings. I have created several piano voicings tutorials to help you.

Another way to help internalize the chords is to learn the bass line. Below you will find bass line resources for all instruments.

Hope this is helpful! Below is the original recording.

Work Song Chord Charts

Nat Adderly, the trumpet playing brother of Cannonball Adderly, wrote “Work Song” for an album by the same name released by Riverside in 1960. Pay close attention to the hits for the rhythm section. This is a 16 bar blues.

Below are the chord charts with chords spelled out for each instrument. Scroll down to see your instrument. Download by clicking the button below the PDF.

Below is a Rhythm Chart for Work Song. This chart gives you the hits in the rhythm section on the first head (usually repeated) and then you can comp as you wish on the solo sections.

Work Song Piano Voicings and Resources

When I teach improvisation, I strongly encourage everyone to learn the chords on piano (doesn’t have to be complex, can be 2 note voicings) as well as the bass line. I have resources for both 2 note and 3 note voicings. For pianists, consider stretching yourself into being able to play a left hand bass while comping right hand, like an organist. Click the links below for resources on how to play the piano parts. I have included a version with notes written in to help those of you who may be slow reading the opposite clef.

You can print directly from my website, or download it to your iPad or computer to place into your tablet. There is a download button below each chart.

Below is the recording I’m using for this lesson. This isn’t the first iteration of this song, but is a good example of how one might play it on the bandstand in a jam session.

Work Song 2 Note Voicings for piano

Work Song 3 Note Voicings for Piano

Work Song Organ Music

Work Song 2 Note Voicing With NOTES

Work Song 3 Note Voicings with Notes

Work Song Bass Line

Below you will find a sample bass line for Work Song by Nat Adderly and Oscar Brown Jr. The music includes a part for concert pitch, Bb instruments (tenor, tpt) and Eb instruments (alto). Scroll down to find your part. You can also download this to your computer or tablet by clicking on the Download button below the sheet music.