Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

318

Steve Nelson: Fuller Nelson

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
You have to have roots. Talk to almost any modern player and they'll stress that in order to get where they are today, they had to walk a road paved in tradition. Few understand or articulate that as well as vibraphonist Steve Nelson. Given that he came to wider attention through his forward-thinking work with Dave Holland over the past nine years, one might be surprised to see that, when faced with the opportunity to release an album under his own moniker, he returns with deep devotion to his more mainstream influences—Hamp, Bags and Hutcherson—but return there he does, and with great aplomb, on Fuller Nelson , the follow-up to his '89 recording Full Nelson.

Mind you, this recording was actually made in '98, when Nelson's light was just beginning to shine as Holland's nascent quintet was turning heads with Points of View . And thanks are clearly due to bassist Ray Drummond, who instigated Nelson to reconvene the trio, rounded out by pianist Kirk Lightsey, best known for his work with Dexter Gordon in the late '70s and '80s. Together the trio plays with a delicacy and grace that makes this a lightly swinging, easy-going session of ballads, blues and standards that may not rattle any musical cages, but demonstrates that when played with vitality and a complete lack of assumption, mainstream jazz still has plenty to say.

The sound is warm, with no sharp edges. The Cahn/Van Heusen standard "The Second Time Around" kicks things off and sets the tone for the whole album, intimate without losing its essential swing. Whether tackling Cole Porter's "Easy to Love" or pieces by Nelson and Lightsey, there is a consistency that makes the standards and originals blend seamlessly; Nelson and Lightsey write so much in the tradition that it sometimes becomes difficult to differentiate their material from the established tunes.

That is not meant to imply that the set lacks diversity. "For Wes" is a tender ballad, subtly poignant. The drama of "Original #2" is expressed in a sublime ninety seconds. "Laila in Blues" harkens back to the Modern Jazz Quartet, with Nelson showing his debt to Bags while still managing to make it sound completely his own. "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You," another evocative ballad, finds Nelson elegantly delivering the melody, with Lightsey choosing just the right notes in support.

Fans of Nelson's work with Holland will likely be surprised by the unexpected traditionalism of Fuller Nelson , but the deeper truth is that artists don't develop in a vacuum. And with an album of refined beauty and unabashed homage, Nelson and his trio have created a recording that soothes the senses and relaxes the soul.


Track Listing: The Second Time Around; Kirk's New Delight; I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You; Song for Justine; Easy to Love; Heaven Dance; Minor Blues; For Wes; Original #2; Laila Blues

Personnel: Steve Nelson (vibraphone), Kirk Lightsey (piano), Ray Drummond (bass)

Title: Fuller Nelson | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bricks CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017
Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Arise" CD/LP/Track Review Arise
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 10, 2017
Read "Double Strike" CD/LP/Track Review Double Strike
by James Nadal
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Reclamation" CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk" CD/LP/Track Review Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Free Sessions Vol. 1: Planets Of Kei" CD/LP/Track Review Free Sessions Vol. 1: Planets Of Kei
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 27, 2017
Read "I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert" CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

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