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The Blues and the Abstract Truth

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iTunes Review

On a lot of jazz albums, the compositions are simply starting points for soloists to jump off from. This isn’t the case on The Blues and the Abstract Truth, where Nelson’s sophisticated pieces themselves shine brightly. A crack group is on hand to perform these gems, including the indisputable classic, “Stolen Moments.” Among the soloists, Eric Dolphy’s sound is instantly recognizable, and as was his wont, the great alto saxophonist takes things further out into space than his stellar colleagues do. But don’t overlook Nelson’s highly expressive sax work, a sort of personalized take on the innovations of John Coltrane. The dream rhythm section of drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Paul Chambers swing with warmth and subtlety, never distracting from Nelson’s striking melodies and elegant harmonies. Freddie Hubbard’s definitive hard bop trumpet and Bill Evans’s cool fingerings lend more individualized hues to this fine album. At times, the septet’s overall sound is so lush that you’d think it was a big band (and even though he doesn’t get to bust out, baritone saxophonist George Barrow contributes to this effect). The Blues and the Abstract Truth is a hard bop milestone.

Customer Reviews

Life-saving music

For me this is one of those desert-island records that sustains through anything life throws at me. In Stolen Moments alone, you have enough beauty to fill the world: solos by Hubbard on trumpet, then Dolphy on flute, then Barrow on baritone sax, then Bill Evans on piano, on top of the coolest groove laid out by Roy Haynes and Paul Chambers. Probably the best 6 bucks you'll ever spend.

All that Blues

The truth may be an abstract concept, but this is just great music, pure and simple. It is basically jazz, based on blues structures, and the track called Hoedown is not exactly that- who cares. I've had this recording for some ten years now, and never get tired of listening to it, either as an aural landscape, slamming accompaniament or simply on its own. The musicians are creme de la heavy creme of the 1960s scene and they give their 110% here, making these complex composition sound easy and spot on; the improvisations are amazing, and the alto sax solo in the first track is one of these sublime moments in music that are too good for words. I am happy I got this Blues and am looking forward to my next decade with it. At this attractive iTunes price, I can't think of a reason not to get this album asap, but it's been around for fourty years, and it's not going away anytime soon. A classic.

The Blues and the Abstract Truth

A great classic from a great musician. Stolen Moments is one of the great jazz classic tunes of all time, and Oliver Nelson was a great arranger and composer. This is a must in any jazz collection.


Born: June 4, 1932 in St. Louis, MO

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Oliver Nelson was a distinctive soloist on alto, tenor, and even soprano, but his writing eventually overshadowed his playing skills. He became a professional early on in 1947, playing with the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra and with St. Louis big bands headed by George Hudson and Nat Towles. In 1951, he arranged and played second alto for Louis Jordan's big band, and followed with a period in the Navy and four years at a university. After moving to New York, Nelson worked briefly with Erskine Hawkins,...
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