272

Oliver Nelson: Straight Ahead

By
Published:
Views: 11,634
Oliver Nelson: Straight Ahead
Contrast is everything. Think of food for example: A big salty hunk of mature cheese is nicely offset by a couple of sweet grapes. Gastronomes would never dream of eating a rich foie-gras without the accompaniment of the honeyed sweetness of a glass of Sauternes.

The same is true with music; a whole album of fast-paced music quickly becomes draining. Likewise, an hour of chilled-out dub can send you to sleep. The saxophonist and composer Oliver Nelson was obviously acutely aware of this when choosing his musical sparring partners. Nelson's decision to share the frontline on three albums with the multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy is often described as brave. I believe that Nelson knew exactly what he was doing. Dolphy, a hero of the avant-garde, has a style so diametrically opposed to Oliver Nelson’s that the two just can’t help but complement each other.

This synergy is beautifully demonstrated on the 1961 recording Straight Ahead. Both soloists play a number of instruments, with Nelson on alto/tenor saxophone and clarinet and Dolphy on bass clarinet, alto saxophone and flute. Oliver Nelson was a jazz composer par excellence, and this album does not disappoint. It contains a number of memorable themes, such as “Six and Four,” “Mama Lou” and “Straight Ahead.” Best of all: the soloing. The high-speed elasticity of Dolphy’s runs contrast perfectly with the pure, soaring tone of Nelson. The two horn players spark each other and generate music of genuine intensity.

It is worth noting that Oliver Nelson and Eric Dolphy played together on a number of other albums, the highlight of which must be the classic chamber-jazz of The Blues and the Abstract Truth. Pass the grapes.....


Track Listing: Images; Six and Four; Mama Lou; Ralph's New Blues; Straight Ahead; 111-44

Personnel: Oliver Nelson: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet; Eric Dolphy: alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute; Richard Wyands: piano; George Duvivier: bass; Roy Haynes: drums

Year Released: 1961 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Oliver Nelson: The Argo, Verve and Impulse Big Band Studio Sessions
Oliver Nelson: The...
Mosaic Records
2007
buy
[no cover]
The Argo, Verve And...
Enja Records
2006
buy
Screamin' the Blues
Screamin' the Blues
Prestige Records
2006
buy
Straight Ahead
Straight Ahead
Fantasy Jazz
2003
buy
[no cover]
Skull Session
Enja Records
2002
buy
[no cover]
The Blues And The...
Enja Records
1995
buy
Miles Davis Miles Davis
trumpet
John Coltrane John Coltrane
saxophone
Dizzy Gillespie Dizzy Gillespie
trumpet
Charles Mingus Charles Mingus
bass, acoustic
Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins
saxophone
Freddie Hubbard Freddie Hubbard
trumpet
Wayne Shorter Wayne Shorter
saxophone

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google banner ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Fund All About Jazz's Future