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JazzLover451

Revisiting Oliver Nelson - Help Appreciated

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Have we mentioned them all yet? Damn near everything he did is fine, or at least intereting. Except that record with T Monk, what the heel happened there? Just didn't spend enuff time on it or what?

That's always been my theory. The guy was a notorious workaholic, especially after he moved to L.A. and started getting TV assignments.

There's plenty other things he did where it was obvious that he was turning in competent but not really inspiring work in return for a competent but inspiring-enough paycheck. But hey, such is life, no?

And when he was inspired, whoa.

Sadly (really, really beyond sadly) he took the "whatever" route with the Monk album. I have trouble forgetting that.

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Have we mentioned them all yet? Damn near everything he did is fine, or at least intereting. Except that record with T Monk, what the heel happened there? Just didn't spend enuff time on it or what?

That's always been my theory. The guy was a notorious workaholic, especially after he moved to L.A. and started getting TV assignments.

There's plenty other things he did where it was obvious that he was turning in competent but not really inspiring work in return for a competent but inspiring-enough paycheck. But hey, such is life, no?

And when he was inspired, whoa.

Ironical then that he did a better job for Pee Wee than for Monk, no?

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Deadlines can fuck you up, especially if you have too many of them for your own good.

That;s why I try to avoid them!

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It was his problem and he booted it. Means something.

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No love for the Berlin Dialogue LP, people?

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I had given up by then. I an sure I missed something.

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It was his problem and he booted it. Means something.

And I don't know but that he went to his grave feeling badly about it, knowing full and damn well that he fucked up.

Or maybe not, maybe he was a total prick who didn't give a damn about music at all.

Kinda doubt it, but you never know, especially with workaholics.

And has the story ever been told about how the album came to be, what the actual mandate was, what the lead time was, what the budget was, what came in versus what was deemed by the producer to be practical enough to get down w/o too many takes, things like that?

I don't know myself, I'm just saying that there's a lot of things that would have gone into the album, and maybe Oliver Nelson bringing in perfunctory framing charts wasn't all Oliver Nelson's doing. Or maybe it was. But after hearing about the weirdness that went into the Sinatra/Ellington project, I now kinda hesitate to assume anything about one-off projects involving logistics and "eccentrics" and business-people.

The only thing I know for sure is that it was a bad idea to release the album & that I don't play it, ever, because it pisses me off so much.

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Afro-American-Sketches.jpg

Terrific music, played with great gusto. Probably my favorite Nelson recording.

:tup A masterpiece !

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Afro-American-Sketches.jpg

Terrific music, played with great gusto. Probably my favorite Nelson recording.

:tup A masterpiece !

You might be interested to know, Sidewinder, that my copy is on Prestige distributed in "Great Britain" by Transatlantic Records and looks like this. It's been in my collection for half a century - I couldn't put date to it! :)

Oliver-Nelson-Orchestra-Afro--American-Sk-331164.jpg

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Jazz Interactions Orchestra "Jazzhattan Suite" Verve records. Included in Mosaic O Nelson set and partially on Verve Jazz Masters 48.

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Jeezis, how do we forget this one?

tumblr_lcf1b1Egg31qcm7n7o1_500.jpg

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Monk/Nelson gets more of a bum rap than it deserves. If it's not all it could have been, it's still a lot of interesting things-- more interesting, for the most part, than the bulk of the not-over-inspired Monk 4-tet recordings-- studio and live-- which preceded it. (Under-documented as it is, Monk kicks it up a few notches on the best Paul Jeffrey material I've heard.) Wannabe "composer" yokels like Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink et al would give up their bicycles, if not their beer, to have ever pulled these off, forget, I dunno... Frank de Vol?

It was his problem and he booted it. Means something.

And I don't know but that he went to his grave feeling badly about it, knowing full and damn well that he fucked up.

Or maybe not, maybe he was a total prick who didn't give a damn about music at all.

Kinda doubt it, but you never know, especially with workaholics.

And has the story ever been told about how the album came to be, what the actual mandate was, what the lead time was, what the budget was, what came in versus what was deemed by the producer to be practical enough to get down w/o too many takes, things like that?

I don't know myself, I'm just saying that there's a lot of things that would have gone into the album, and maybe Oliver Nelson bringing in perfunctory framing charts wasn't all Oliver Nelson's doing. Or maybe it was. But after hearing about the weirdness that went into the Sinatra/Ellington project, I now kinda hesitate to assume anything about one-off projects involving logistics and "eccentrics" and business-people.

The only thing I know for sure is that it was a bad idea to release the album & that I don't play it, ever, because it pisses me off so much.

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I'd have liked to have heard Paul Jeffrey do some larger-ensemble work with Monk.

Hell, I'd have like for everybody to have been in a "place" where that would have been a viable proposition.

But, as they say, if "if"s and "but"s were candy and nuts, then every day would be Christmas.

Now, quiet as its kept, there some Gil Fuller arrangements of some Monk tunes that he did for Dizzy's big band of the 1940s...including one on "Introspection". (which I think used to be called "Playhouse"?) At least I've seen little tiny ads advertising them for sale in the back pages of some older jazz magazines. Virtually none have been recorded, officially or otherwise.

Entrepreneurial musical archaeologists looking for a cause/project/bait for funding/etc., take note.

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Monk/Nelson gets more of a bum rap than it deserves. If it's not all it could have been, it's still a lot of interesting things-- more interesting, for the most part, than the bulk of the not-over-inspired Monk 4-tet recordings-- studio and live-- which preceded it. (Under-documented as it is, Monk kicks it up a few notches on the best Paul Jeffrey material I've heard.) Wannabe "composer" yokels like Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink et al would give up their bicycles, if not their beer, to have ever pulled these off, forget, I dunno... Frank de Vol?

Still sounds like crap to me. Hack orchestrations that have little or nothing to do with Monk's music. The only positive thing that came from listening to this was that I was reminded to never listen again.

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They're not "hack" by any stretch of the imagination. Those voicings are typically knotty Nelson. They're just not particularly relevant to Monk himself needing to be there. Might have been a better album if he wasn't.

But again, I don't know how much planning/lead-time/etc. went into this album. It sounds like a bit of a rush job by Nelson to me, and that might have been his own doing, or it might not have been. Maybe Teo said hey, we're out here, let's get Oliver to do some things, nothing too complicated, something the cats can read down the first time, something Monk won't have to think about too much, Oliver, can you do that? Sure, when do you need it? Oh, next week or so? Sure, yeah.

Because that's exactly what it sounds like to me.

Or maybe not. Point being, It's always seemed odd to me that the album was what it was, and I have a very hard time thinking that it was as simple as Oliver Nelson just didn't give a fuck about Thelonious Monk.

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Jazz Interactions Orchestra "Jazzhattan Suite" Verve records. Included in Mosaic O Nelson set and partially on Verve Jazz Masters 48.

Damn, I forgot about that one. How is that LP? I had a chance to buy it at a used record store, but it was kind of pricey. I think there was a Phil Woods feature on it. How is that?

I remember I was working with George Barrows the day ON died; he was shocked. According to a book I was reading, ON got a lot of grief from black musicians because he used white guys like Woods and Ed Shaughnessey on his records.

They used to slide pictures of slave ships under his door.

ON said he just wanted to use musicians who could play his music the best it could be played.

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They're not "hack" by any stretch of the imagination. Those voicings are typically knotty Nelson. They're just not particularly relevant to Monk himself needing to be there. Might have been a better album if he wasn't.

But again, I don't know how much planning/lead-time/etc. went into this album. It sounds like a bit of a rush job by Nelson to me, and that might have been his own doing, or it might not have been. Maybe Teo said hey, we're out here, let's get Oliver to do some things, nothing too complicated, something the cats can read down the first time, something Monk won't have to think about too much, Oliver, can you do that? Sure, when do you need it? Oh, next week or so? Sure, yeah.

Because that's exactly what it sounds like to me.

Or maybe not. Point being, It's always seemed odd to me that the album was what it was, and I have a very hard time thinking that it was as simple as Oliver Nelson just didn't give a fuck about Thelonious Monk.

Just looked at the Kelley bio and the lead time was a few weeks, enough for a "standard" assignment, probably not so much for a really deep look into Monk's music.

Also sounds like Teo was the main mover/shaker behind this date, and that Monk was just going along for the ride. Thus the inclusion of three Macero originals on the date.

Ultimately, it sounds as if Macero was looking for the "Oliver Nelson sound" as a potential commercial boost to Monk's sales (this at a time when columbia was getting all antsy about crossing Monk over) . Also sounds like budget was a concern (a third day of recording was canceled for that exact reason), so I have no doubt that Macero & Nelson, both business-savvy musicians well aware of what would and would not be expeditious to place in front of a big band to get a full album of music of a certain executional quality (you go all Hall Overton under these circumstances, and you need more than a few days and great sight-readers to make it sound right, never mind making it actually BE right...), looked at this at least as much from a business standpoint as a purely musical one.

And that's what it sounds like, worlds colliding but never making contact, everybody getting paid and moving on. If it wasn't Monk it really wouldn't that big of a deal, and even since it is, it's not the only time this has happened like this for exactly the same reasons.

I still can't listen to the record, though.

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Ah, but I do love it in parts-- the seeming disconnects included. Just listen to Monk's aggressive fills alone on both those cuts, "Consecutive Seconds" and "Straight." If TSM didn't "need" to be there (and I get what you're saying), imagine the difference if we dropped let's say Ronnie Mathews or Barry Harris in those spots?

The ersatz "Sidewinder" (bag if not the tune specifically) of "Consecutive Seconds" slays me-- and is among the FUNNIEST (and most FUN) Monk moments I can think of since at least the early '60s.

Totally agree btw that Nelson is Nelson and by now sui generis, if not operating at highest level his genius was capable of.

Come on Paul Secor, jump in, the water's warm.

Not that either of ya'll would do such a thing but I can't believe there are those who could prefer Steve Lacy's Monk to Monk's Monk-- and I like Steve Lacy fine but come on...

FUNKY MONK LIVES!

I still can't listen to the record, though.

Edited by MomsMobley

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Ah, but I do love it in parts-- the seeming disconnects included. Just listen to Monk's aggressive fills alone on both those cuts, "Consecutive Seconds" and "Straight." If TSM didn't "need" to be there (and I get what you're saying), imagine the difference if we dropped let's say Ronnie Mathews or Barry Harris in those spots?

Yeah, that's fair enough. I just haven't...healed enough to accept it that well.HA!

But let's imagine the difference if we dropped in what was Nelson's LA pianist of choice that time, Roger Kellaway...

When in LA, do as the LAians do...

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Not that either of ya'll would do such a thing but I can't believe there are those who could prefer Steve Lacy's Monk to Monk's Monk-- and I like Steve Lacy fine but come on...

.

I don't know how Steve Lacy got thrown into the mix. But if you want to go there, I'll take Lacy's Monk over Nelson's Monk hands down, every time, any time.

If you hear something worthwhile in the Monk/Nelson album, happy listening. Each of us have our own tastes.

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I think I'd prefer Lacy's Monk to Monk's Nelson, but that's strictly an idle speculation based entirely on the hypothetical conjecture.

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Ah, but I do love it in parts-- the seeming disconnects included. Just listen to Monk's aggressive fills alone on both those cuts, "Consecutive Seconds" and "Straight." If TSM didn't "need" to be there (and I get what you're saying), imagine the difference if we dropped let's say Ronnie Mathews or Barry Harris in those spots?

Yeah, that's fair enough. I just haven't...healed enough to accept it that well.HA!

But let's imagine the difference if we dropped in what was Nelson's LA pianist of choice that time, Roger Kellaway...

When in LA, do as the LAians do...

What was that?!! Holy shit!

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3,2,1,0 from Black Brown & Beautiful (Flying Dutchman).

Solos by Roger Kellaway & Bobby Bryant.

The compose'rs liner notes dryly note the great progress that has come from the expenditures on the space program while earthly situations continue to...not progress so much.

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Some really great writing here, unlikely as it might seem:

Jb-soul-on-top.jpg

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Jazz Interactions Orchestra "Jazzhattan Suite" Verve records. Included in Mosaic O Nelson set and partially on Verve Jazz Masters 48.

Damn, I forgot about that one. How is that LP? I had a chance to buy it at a used record store, but it was kind of pricey. I think there was a Phil Woods feature on it. How is that?

I remember I was working with George Barrows the day ON died; he was shocked. According to a book I was reading, ON got a lot of grief from black musicians because he used white guys like Woods and Ed Shaughnessey on his records.

They used to slide pictures of slave ships under his door.

ON said he just wanted to use musicians who could play his music the best it could be played.

Jazzhattan Suite is an exceptional album. "A Penthouse Dawn" has some sweet and beautiful moments in the writing and in Phil's blowing. I always felt that Oliver and Phil had a spritual connection in their playing...a beauty that surfaced when Phil was blowing lead alto on Oliver's charts or the respect Phil payed Oliver whenever he soloed in Oliver's band. Jazzhattan Suite, is for me, the big band Nelson album where everything came together beautifully - not like "Full Nelson" on Verve where you wonder what's at the heart and soul of it all or why the session didn't really impact.

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