Nat Adderley was a leader on quite a few projects, nearly forty over the course of his career. This Riverside recording is probably one of his best efforts. During his early career Nat Adderley was overshadowed by his older brother Julian, Cannonball, Adderley. On this CD, Work Song, originally released in 1960, Nat takes front and centre. He also contributes two original compositions including the title track.
The current liner notes indicate that there were complications in the original session. The pianist, Bobby Timmons, only lasted through five of the nine songs. Suffering from substance abuse at that time, he was not able to play on two compositions as per the original plans for the session. He did contribute one composition "Pretty Memory" and the motivation for Nat Adderley to compose "Fallout" as a reminder of the session. The original liner notes indicate that this is a sound you are guaranteed not to have heard before. The three horns - you could say, are coronet, guitar and cello.
Another slight snag to the planned session was the absence of Percy Heath for a portion of the recording; the notes indicate a possible conflict with a practice schedule for his main group, The Modern Jazz Quartet. The replacement, Keter Betts, fills in admirably, providing excellent walking bass patterns in "Mean To Me," while Nat Adderley plays muted coronet with gorgeous tone and soulful moanin’. The rhythm section of Hayes, Betts and Montgomery is outstanding throughout. Betts takes the front line with a remarkable pizzicato cello solo on "My Heart Stood Still" and Sam Jones plays solid bass.
Nat Adderley is playing at his best on this recording. He has a wonderful sound and a great soulful feel to his playing. The addition of Wes Montgomery in a supporting role offers up a different take on his skill as a fine accompanist. The combination of cello by either Sam Jones or Keter Betts, and bass by either of those gentlemen or by Percy Heath, creates a unique sound. I hope that more Nat Adderley material is re-issued, as this was a tremendous musician who should have gained much more recognition.