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Take Five With Josh Nelson

Take Five With Josh Nelson
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Meet Josh Nelson:
Josh Nelson, born and raised in Southern California, maintains an active and creative schedule as a jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and recording artist. At 33 years old, he has already performed with some of the most respected names in jazz, including Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole
b.1950
vocalist
, Anthony Wilson
Anthony Wilson
Anthony Wilson
b.1968
guitar
, Robert Hurst, Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
b.1953
drums
, Ralph Moore
Ralph Moore
Ralph Moore
b.1956
, Albert "Tootie" Heath
Albert
Albert "Tootie" Heath
b.1935
drums
, Seamus Blake
Seamus Blake
Seamus Blake
b.1970
sax, tenor
, Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
b.1964
drums
, Sara Gazarek
Sara Gazarek
Sara Gazarek

vocalist
, Ernie Watts
Ernie Watts
Ernie Watts
b.1945
reeds
, Jack Sheldon
Jack Sheldon
Jack Sheldon
b.1931
trumpet
, Tom Scott
Tom Scott
Tom Scott
b.1948
saxophone
, Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
b.1954
drums
, Abe Laboriel
Abe Laboriel
Abe Laboriel
b.1947
bass, electric
, and Alex Acuna, to name a few.

Josh has recorded for countless albums, films, and TV shows, but also makes time for his own projects: First Stories (1998), Anticipation (2004) and Let it Go (Native Language Music, 2007) all garnered international critical claim. Josh's fourth album, I Hear a Rhapsody (2009), featured Josh's musings on new original music, standard interpretations, and reinventions of pop tunes. His upcoming record, Discoveries, breaks all the rules, and we hear a fresh and new sound in his writing for a brass and wind ensemble.

Compositions and performances of his have appeared on various prime-time and cable shows and films, including Jack and Bobby, The Division, Lucky, and First Daughter. He has also worked with film composer Michael Kamen, and actors Eric Idle, Clint Eastwood, and Jon Lovitz. Josh has earned many awards, scholarships, and accolades over the years, some of which include the Louis Armstrong Award and the John Philip Sousa Award. He was also one of only twelve semi-finalists in the prestigious 2006 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.

Josh is also musical director for vocal talent Sara Gazarek, for whom he penned the title track of her debut record, Yours. That record reached No. 10 on the Billboard Jazz Charts. Sara's second studio album, Return to You (2006), also featured Josh's singer/songwriter skills.

Currently, Josh continues his touring with legendary vocalist Natalie Cole. He is also always working on a new CD project, and is just happy to be alive and playing with wonderful musicians!

Instrument(s):
Piano, keyboards, trumpet.

Teachers and/or influences?
Teachers: Cecilia Coleman
Cecilia Coleman
Cecilia Coleman
b.1962
piano
, John Clayton
John Clayton
John Clayton
b.1952
bass, acoustic
, John Prince, Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
b.1956
piano
, Alan Pasqua
Alan Pasqua
Alan Pasqua

piano
, Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
b.1954
drums
.

Influences: Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
, Alan Ferber
Alan Ferber
Alan Ferber

trombone
, Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller
1955 - 2013
piano
, Kenny Kirkland
Kenny Kirkland
Kenny Kirkland
1955 - 1998
piano
, Michel Petrucciani
Michel Petrucciani
Michel Petrucciani
b.1962
piano
, Woody Shaw
Woody Shaw
Woody Shaw
1944 - 1989
trumpet
, Dmitri Shostakovich, Charles Ives, Ben Wendel
Ben Wendel
Ben Wendel

saxophone
, Nick Drake, The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys
1961 - 1998
band/orchestra
, Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
b.1943
vocalist
.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
My grandfather showed me Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic, and also introduced me to Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
and André Previn.

Your sound and approach to music:
I have a softer touch than a lot of other young-ish pianists. I prefer to caress the piano, never pound it.

Your teaching approach:
I love teaching, and seeing a student discover their own answers. I try to present the information in the most simple and straightforward light possible. I never like to hurry students through a concept as we work on it. Listening is key!

Your dream band:
Bass: Larry Grenadier
Larry Grenadier
Larry Grenadier
b.1966
bass
;
Drums: Jeff Ballard
Jeff Ballard
Jeff Ballard
b.1963
drums
;
Trumpet: Tim Hagans
Tim Hagans
Tim Hagans
b.1954
trumpet
;
Tenor Sax: Seamus Blake
Seamus Blake
Seamus Blake
b.1970
sax, tenor
.

Favorite venue:
In Los Angeles: Blue Whale; in the world: Blue Note, Tokyo.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Discoveries (the latest one). I really feel that I got my vision across on this one, sonically, compositionally, and artistically. Fun to make, easy to work with the band.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
, Standard Time Vol. 1.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
I like my music to have a sense of accessibility to it. I'd like to think that people who don't normally listen to jazz might be turned on to my music.

Did you know...
I love to hike all the time, and I also am an aspiring screenwriter.

CDs you are listening to now:
Danger Mouse, Rome;

Betty Carter
Betty Carter
Betty Carter
1930 - 1998
vocalist
, With the Audience;

Orrin Evans
Orrin Evans
Orrin Evans
b.1975
piano
, Freedom;

Leonard Bernstein, Charles Ives 'Holidays';

Larry Goldings
Larry Goldings
Larry Goldings
b.1968
keyboard
, Moonbird.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Young musicians need to be willing to do lots of different types of gigs. They need to drop the "holier than thou" attitude and just make some music. They also need to know their tunes! Knowledge of standards is essential when you're building your own voice. We also need some more business-minded people to open some good jazz venues, especially in the US, where they are going away faster than they are coming in.

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