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JSngry

Oliver Nelson on Prestige

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Got shamed into confronting my lack of real exploration into Nelson's Prestige catalog (as leader and sideman), have the dates with Dolphy, of course, essential music, imo, but everything else has been kind of collected accidentally in effect, if not in intent. Going about rectifying that, and am finding much delight in the various small group dates where he plays at more length and opportunity than his later dates that were so often showcases for the sidepeoples (the quartet side of Sound Pieces being a memorable exception).

My first real OMG moment of Oliver's playing was perhaps the most obvious one, and from a long time ago, the tenor solo on "Stolen Moments" from Blues And The Abstract truth, holy shit, talk about tensions and contrasts. But I more or less moved ahead from that album rather than back (the one exception being that Prestige two-fer LP with Dolphy, talk about a perfect package) figuring, oh well, Prestige, earlier work, small groups, whenever. Well, now's the time. In the process of filling in most of the remaining blanks, with one thing coming in that I have no idea what to expect - an Etta Jones string album...has anybody ever heard that one?

Anyway, Oliver Nelson on Prestige, please comment if you've gone there at any point with any real purpose. His relationship with the label seemed to have been a productive one.

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Entered Nelson's world with Taking Care of Business and then backed up to Meet Oliver Nelson - I followed until the show biz work took over. I loved the contrast in the Nelson / Dolphy Prestige dates - Nelson solos sound like granite and Dolphy always seemed about to go off the rails.

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I especially like - Meet Oliver Nelson. Having Kenny Dorham and Ray Bryant on the session makes for a musical treat.

 

Also have - Oliver Nelson with Lem Winchester - Nocturne. This is a very tasty Moodsville date that includes Richard Wands, George Duvivier, and Roy Haynes.

Two Prestige CDs I dig.

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Afro-American Sketches!!!! Do not miss this one.

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I've had all of his Prestige sides for many years, and have generally found them rewarding and above the run-of-the-mill product they sometimes produced during that busy era.  Nelson always had strong enough writing and arranging talent to avoid many of the pitfalls. 

Edited by felser

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Speaking of Prestige 7th 2-fers...has the session with Red Garland been compiled on CD? I'm suddenly remembering an incendiary Nelson soloon "Undecided".

Also having a good time reading the original liner notes. By the time I got to him, Nelson was commonly known as a writer who occasionally played. On these records, mention is made of his writing ambitions, but the focus of the notes is on his unique playing. That, and Oliver gets quoted pretty liberally about his play in and his formative influences, which over the course of a few album's notes, are revealed to include Coltrane, Bartok, Hodges, and Elliot Carter, a.o. Not just the names, but also a bit of the reasons why.

How do you not love a guy who has no problem reconciling Johnny Hodges and Elliot Carter...and apparently as part of the process makes records with both Eric Dolph and King Curtis?

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Speaking of Prestige 7th 2-fers...has the session with Red Garland been compiled on CD? I'm suddenly remembering an incendiary Nelson soloon "Undecided".

Of the five tracks recorded on March 16, 1961, two appear on Garland's Soul Burnin'. The other three can be found on Rediscovered Masters, Vol. 2.

AFAIK, the incendiary solo on Undecided is Trane, not Nelson, from Garland's High Pressure.

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Well, yeah, Trane was Trane. But Trane was not, and is not, the only somebody who had something going on. He was a fire starter, not a fire extinguisher.

Nelson heard Trane, how could you not, but he definitely was playing with fire, his own fire. His notions of improvisational structure, how you arc a solo, hell, even what you based a solo on, were very un-Trane like, even if they included obvious use of some elements of Trane's building blocks. Hearing him play at length, it's striking about jazz (or life, essentially) how many different premises, and then conclusions, could be had from a common core of starting points.

Also fascinating to me how Nelson could speak naturally with so many accents, as in speech, in a single solo, sometimes in a single phrase. A lot of people would give you shades of one voice, this guy would sometimes do a  one act play with multiple chsracters, or at lrast give the impression that that was a quite viable notion thst was on its way. 

He was, at this point, one of the more "macro" thinking improvisors on the scene. Maybe writing was ultimstely the more/most/only sustainable outlet for these impulses, but at this point in time, playing was what was immediately  there, so playing was what he did.

As for the disographical matter, the LPs transferred over to CD then, correct? In order to hear the entire session you have to buy both, or at least combine the msterial from both? This is where those Andoorican things take the money and run...

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3 hours ago, JSngry said:

In order to hear the entire session you have to buy both, or at least combine the material from both? This is where those Andoorican things take the money and run...

Seems you're right, as there was no issue of the complete session in the sixties - sonnymax named the CD issues. 

Can't contribute much to the discussion except that whenever I buy one of the sixties sessions with Nelson I'm musically satisfied, find his range of musical partners pretty amazing, and love his solos. 

His solo on Stolen Moments never fails to touch my soul. There are not too many who can do that.

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12 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

Afro-American Sketches!!!! Do not miss this one.

Yep - superb all round, arrangements and solos.

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7 hours ago, JSngry said:

Well, yeah, Trane was Trane. But Trane was not, and is not, the only somebody who had something going on. He was a fire starter, not a fire extinguisher.

Nelson heard Trane, how could you not, but he definitely was playing with fire, his own fire. His notions of improvisational structure, how you arc a solo, hell, even what you based a solo on, were very un-Trane like, even if they included obvious use of some elements of Trane's building blocks. Hearing him play at length, it's striking about jazz (or life, essentially) how many different premises, and then conclusions, could be had from a common core of starting points.

Also fascinating to me how Nelson could speak naturally with so many accents, as in speech, in a single solo, sometimes in a single phrase. A lot of people would give you shades of one voice, this guy would sometimes do a  one act play with multiple chsracters, or at lrast give the impression that that was a quite viable notion thst was on its way. 

He was, at this point, one of the more "macro" thinking improvisors on the scene. Maybe writing was ultimstely the more/most/only sustainable outlet for these impulses, but at this point in time, playing was what was immediately  there, so playing was what he did.

As for the disographical matter, the LPs transferred over to CD then, correct? In order to hear the entire session you have to buy both, or at least combine the msterial from both? This is where those Andoorican things take the money and run...

About Nelson's macro thinking, I've often wondered whether some, or some parts, of his solos were pretty much worked out beforehand. If so, not a problem for me but just the way he thought/went about things.

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Would've been nice if an alternate take or two had survived

 

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15 hours ago, sonnymax said:

Of the five tracks recorded  on March 16, 1961, two appear on Garland's Soul Burnin'. The other three can be found on Rediscovered Masters, Vol. 2.

AFAIK, the incendiary solo on Undecided is Trane, not Nelson, from Garland's High Pressure.

Oh shit.... I was thinking of Nelson on Avalon & thinking It was Undecided...memory needs refreshing, order placed .

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Lem's Beat by Lee Winchester...that's not a "great record" but Oliver's playing at times has a Shorter-esque element of wtf? moments that are over almost as soon as they begin, lines veering off course and then coming right back in...been playing the record all morning just for those moments.

That, and to figure out what the hell they were up again to assemble "Your Last Chance"...good lord!

Also some interesting real-time piano by Billy Brown on the two pieces he's on. Reading between the lines of Chris Albertson's liners, perhaps Mr. Brown was tardy to the date?

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Vis-a-vis Nelson's approach to improvisation, that NOCTURNE date is very revealing, IMO. The title track is "through-composed," Strayhorn meets Debussy, and is as much a study of articulation, subtle timbral variation and vibrato as it is anything else. Probably a little less of that Trane influence / processing going on here as well. Check out the "build" on Nelson's solo on "Azur Te"...

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And for something completely different..NP: Shirley Scott's 1961 Blue Seven on Prestige, with a band of Nelson, Joe Newman, George Tucker, & Roy Brooks. Oliver (or Ollie, as liner notes writers seemed to enjoy calling him) is on a veritable Dexter Gordon trip here, even while making those harmonic sidesteps that are at once predictable and arresting.

Also interesting in retrospect to know that the relationships with both Scott & New an would continue, albeit under total different dynamics...another thing of interest in tracing Nelson's Prestige work, how many relationships would continue, there was nothing random about this guy, apparently. Blessing andcurse, right?

Sidenote about this one record - although George Tucker is present and magnificent, there is no bassist on "Don't Worry Bout It Baby, Here I Am". This would be a rarity of occurrence for Scott at this time, a bass-less track, correct? Wonder if the choice was logistical or negotiated or just what, exactly?

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45 minutes ago, JSngry said:

And for something completely different..NP: Shirley Scott's 1961 Blue Seven on Prestige, with a band of Nelson, Joe Newman, George Tucker, & Roy Brooks. Oliver (or Ollie, as liner notes writers seemed to enjoy calling him) is on a veritable Dexter Gordon trip here, even while making those harmonic sidesteps that are at once predictable and arresting.

Also interesting in retrospect to know that the relationships with both Scott & New an would continue, albeit under total different dynamics...another thing of interest in tracing Nelson's Prestige work, how many relationships would continue, there was nothing random about this guy, apparently. Blessing andcurse, right?

Sidenote about this one record - although George Tucker is present and magnificent, there is no bassist on "Don't Worry Bout It Baby, Here I Am". This would be a rarity of occurrence for Scott at this time, a bass-less track, correct? Wonder if the choice was logistical or negotiated or just what, exactly?

I wondered when you'd deal with this disc.

Nomatter the master numbers, maybe Tucker arrived late or more likely left early for another gig.

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Another thing - folks should pay attention to the Wyands, Duvivier, Haynes rhythm section - they were the guys.

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I believe Esmond (Eddie) Edwards is a hero here. So many great transitional dates.

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Seconded.

Did Edwards use Nelson @Argo/Cadet other than for Fantabulous & the Lou Donaldson date? 

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3 hours ago, Chuck Nessa said:

Adon'ther thing -folks should pay attention to the Wyands, Duvivier, Haynes rhythm section -  they were the guys.

Wow, talk about not paying attention, I just now noticed that Wyands and Haynes are on Trane Whistle. Roy just kicks every time he plays, you'd think hesteady played big bands. And Jaws, you'd think he was the baddest mf  to ever pick up a tenor...and don't ask me to refute the possibility, I don't care If he IS dead, not running taht particular risk.

That's one of those records where It sounds like everybody was happy to be there doing exactly what they were
there doing, and jeez, happy Jaws, happy Roy, happy big band, I'm gonna let somebody else complain about that, won't be me.

 

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15 hours ago, Chuck Nessa said:

Another thing - folks should pay attention to the Wyands, Duvivier, Haynes rhythm section - they were the guys.

:tup

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Fascinating to compare that prototype run of 'Stolen Moments' on Trane Whistle with the one on Blues & The Abstract Truth.

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Hadn't realized the version on the Lockjaw session predated the more famous one. Incidentally, always regarded Trane Whistle as a Nelson session, to the extent of filing it with my Nelson discs, rather than with my Lockjaws - The Oliver Nelson Orchestra featuring Eddie Davis, if you know what I mean. ^_^

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