The Improvisation Quick Take: Oliver Nelson

The Improvisation Quick Take

modestly informed impressions


Category: ARCHIVE

Artist: Oliver Nelson Septet

Title: The Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961) Impulse

Quick Take Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Personnel Listing

  • Oliver Nelson: Alto and Tenor saxophones
  • Eric Dolphy: Alto saxophone and Flute
  • Freddie Hubbard: Trumpet
  • George Barrow: Baritone saxophone
  • Bill Evans: Piano
  • Paul Chambers: Bass
  • Roy Haynes: Drums

The thing often said over the years about this record is how it too extends and re-shapes the blues in much the same way as Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. The album’s opening cut Stolen Moments has fittingly become a jazz standard. But, I’ve always loved the modernist nod to Aaron Copland on Hoe–Down while Teenie’sBlues could have been called Igor’s Blues with Dolphy, Haynes and Chambers taking Stravinsky to Blues Alley; maybe less intentional than I imagine, maybe not. All said, the shine of this record still comes from Nelson’s arrangements and compositions and how they’re stacked on the record itself. The tunes flow and connect to one another from beginning to end and then there’s Bill Evans. His opening piano on Yearnin’ swings as deftly and uniquely as any piano player you can name. Maybe it’s Evans’ stylistic underscore which connects these sessions to Kind of Blue having played on both records. Pull it off your shelf and give it a listen. It’s a joyful masterpiece.


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