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Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson was a distinctive soloist on alto, tenor, and even soprano, but his writing eventually overshadowed his playing skills. He became a professional early on in 1947, playing with the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra and with St. Louis big bands headed by George Hudson and Nat Towles. In 1951, he arranged and played second alto for Louis Jordan's big band, and followed with a period in the Navy and four years at a university. After moving to New York, Nelson worked briefly with Erskine Hawkins, Wild Bill Davis, and Louie Bellson (the latter on the West Coast). In addition to playing with Quincy Jones' orchestra (1960-1961), between 1959-1961 Nelson recorded six small-group albums and a big band date; those gave him a lot of recognition and respect in the jazz world. Blues and the Abstract Truth (from 1961) is considered a classic and helped to popularize a song that Nelson had included on a slightly earlier Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis session, "Stolen Moments." He also fearlessly matched wits effectively with the explosive Eric Dolphy on a pair of quintet sessions. But good as his playing was, Nelson was in greater demand as an arranger, writing for big band dates of Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, and Billy Taylor, among others. By 1967, when he moved to Los Angeles, Nelson was working hard in the studios, writing for television and movies. He occasionally appeared with a big band, wrote a few ambitious works, and recorded jazz on an infrequent basis, but Oliver Nelson was largely lost to jazz a few years before his unexpected death at age 43 from a heart attack. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
full bio

Comments

I can remember hearing STOLEN MOMENTS as a child (6 or 7) every Friday evening on a Philly jazz station with DJ Sid Marks. Remember my dad grooving to this cut !!!! CLASSIC FLOW :) x
h8uthemost
my nuts hurt. but yeah, oliver was bad a**
Blues and the Abstract Truth is one of those essential albums for Nelson's brilliant arrangements obviously, but also, I am not aware of any other recordings of Bill Evans and Eric Dolphy working together.
2014.HAPPY NEW YEAR.STARTIN G OFF RIGHT,WITH THE PERCOLATING SOUNDS ON PANDORA
43! What a loss! A distinctive style easily recognizable in cinematic circles!
Very lovely music, you should be proud of your grandfather.
This is my great grandpa! I'm sad that I never got to meet him, but I hope to play like him one day. Love you grampa! <\3
He wrote "Pattern for improvvisati o n " which I treasure more then any other jazz book. Thanks Oliver, wherever you are!
None too shabby, this man!!! Wish he was still here...
I love this guy's solo work, but as his biography states, his arrangements for big bands, some of which recorded under his own name, were excellent. Look for Jimmy Smith Verve recordings from the 60's and you'll get an idea how powerful and simultaneous l y pleasant Smith's B3 can be in a larger group setting. Melba Liston on trombone! Not too many lady instrumental i s t s at that time!

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