9

Josh Nelson: Exploring Mars

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Josh Nelson: Exploring Mars
Exploring Mars is fueled by a love of science fiction, intellectual inquisitiveness, and musical inventiveness of the highest order. Pianist Josh Nelson, initially inspired by the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars in the summer of 2012, put together a project that's musically expansive and wholly unique: It's safe to say that he's the first person to tie together author Ray Bradbury's writings, original music that ranges from the friendly to the far-out, tributes to four rover landings, and the work of composer Gustav Holst.

This particular space odyssey begins with Nelson's spoken word recitation of material from Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles (Doubleday, 1950) over a 5/4 musical backdrop ("Bradbury's Spirit"). From there, it's off to a number that starts with the focus on Nelson's piano, artfully expanding and ripening as it goes ("Sojourner"). Then there's an engrossing look at the guitar work of Larry Koonse ("Memnonia Quadrangle"), an oddly endearing love ballad delivered by vocalist Kathleen Grace ("How You Loved Me On Mars"), and a quirky and fusion-y trip ("Opportunity").

The second half of the album is populated by an equally wide variety of material. "Solis Lacus, The Eye Of Mars"—a dark tom-and-cymbal meditation from drummer Dan Schnelle—leads to Nelson's overdubbed take on "Mars, The Bringer Of War," the best known piece from Holst's The Planets, Op. 32, and "Curiosity," a synthesizer-centered number that excites and inspires. Nelson's space mission then comes to its end with "Syrtis Major, The Hour Glass Sea," which finds John Daversa speaking in tongues with his EVI, and "Spirit," a reprise of the music on the album opener.

A fertile imagination and strong musical skills have given birth to a remarkable work of art here. Exploring Mars is a world unto itself.

Track Listing

Bradbury's Spirit; Sojourner; Memnonia Quadrangle; How You Loved Me On Mars; Opportunity; Solis Lacus, The Eye Of Mars; Mars, The Bringer Of War; Curiosity; Syrtis Major, The Hourglass Sea; Spirit.

Personnel

Josh Nelson: piano, trumpet, Nord Electro 3; John Daversa: trumpet, EVI; Larry Koonse: guitar; Dave Robaire: bass; Dan Schnelle: drums; Kathleen Grace: vocals; Alan Ferber: trombone; Brian Walsh: bass clarinet; Larry Goldings: B3 organ(4).

Album information

Title: Exploring Mars | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Origin Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

View events near Los Angeles
Jazz Near Los Angeles
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon

More

Read 25 Years
25 Years
Edward Simon
Read Splatter
Splatter
Roscoe Mitchell
Read Then Now
Then Now
Matthew Shipp / Rob Brown
Read Free Hoops
Free Hoops
Sylvie Courvoisier Trio
Read A Walk in the Park
A Walk in the Park
Jerry Cook Quartet +
Read New Aurora
New Aurora
Michael Sarian

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.