Oliver Nelson And Orchestra The Kennedy Dream Orange/Black Impulse STEREO AS-9144.
When the late President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, the world lost not only a prominent politician, but one who truly championed the arts and civil rights. In February of 1967, Oliver Nelson recognized Kennedy's contributions and assembled a big band to play music in his honor, with taped segments of his speeches as preludes. The result is a heartfelt yet eerie combination, perhaps a bit off-putting, but absolutely relevant decades later. The music is reflective of the changing times as identified by Nelson, ranging from commercial movie score-type music, to soulful or straight-ahead jazz, bop, and the modern big-band sound that the leader, composer, and orchestrator owned. Kennedy's most famous speech about fellow Americans, asking what they can do for their country, is folded into the last track "John Kennedy Memory Waltz" with a string quartet and the regret-tinged alto sax of Phil Woods. The 34th President's oratorios on human rights act as prelude to the soft clarion horns, 7/8 beat, flutes, and vibes, giving way to the modal and serene passages of "Let the Word Go Forth," or the cinematic, military beat, harpsichord-shaded, plucked-guitar-and-streaming-oboe-accented "The Rights of All," which is also reflective of the immortal spiritual song "Wade in the Water." Where "Tolerance" has a similar verbal tone, the mood is much more ethereal between the flutes, oboe, and strings, while the two-minute etude for the first lady and widow, "Jacqueline," is in a loping stride, reflective of how much longer it always took her to get dressed and organized. "A Genuine Peace" is an anthem for all time in a soul-jazz mode that parallels Aaron Copland's Americana moods, while "Day in Dallas" is the expectant, ominous, foreboding calm before the chaos. Nelson's straight-ahead jazz exercise is "The Artists' Rightful Place," a spoken word tonic for musical troops in a bop framework that has the horn section jumping for joy. As always, Nelson surrounds himself with the very best musicians like Woods and Phil Bodner in the reed section, tuba player Don Butterfield, bassist George Duvivier, pianist Hank Jones, and all produced by Bob Thiele. Now reissued on CD some 40 years later, it's a stark reminder of how one man can positively influence the human condition aside from politics and corporate greed, and how another can change his world musically.
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, Wild Bill Davis, and Louie Bellson (the latter on the West Coast). In addition to playing with Quincy Jones' orchestra (1960-1961), between 1959-1961 Nelson recorded six small-group albums and a big band date; those gave him a lot of recognition and respect in the jazz world. Blues and the Abstract Truth (from 1961) is considered a classic and helped to popularize a song that Nelson had included on a slightly earlier Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis session, "Stolen Moments." He also fearlessly matched wits effectively with the explosive Eric Dolphy on a pair of quintet sessions. But good as his playing was, Nelson was in greater demand as an arranger, writing for big band dates of Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, and Billy Taylor, among others. By 1967, when he moved to Los Angeles, Nelson was working hard in the studios, writing for television and movies. He occasionally appeared with a big band, wrote a few ambitious works, and recorded jazz on an infrequent basis, but Oliver Nelson was largely lost to jazz a few years before his unexpected death at age 43 from a heart attack.
From a nice big batch of all types of music that I recently acquired from an audiophile.All discs in this collection have been closely inspected! All my albums are stored in a humidity/temperature controlled room. Will combine shipping.
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