PHENOMENAL BIG BAND IN FABULOUS FORM!
RBSProds | Deep in the heart of Texas | 09/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Five Huge Stars!! WOW!! Oliver Nelson's Big Band at it's all star best! On a par with Nelson's "Sound Pieces" and the two "Blues & The Abstract Truth" & "More Blues....." albums, this is pennultimate, essential Nelson as a leader, arranger, and player. And the band is wonderful featuring the likes of Frank Strozier, a young Tom Scott, Lou Blackburn, Mel Brown, Jack Nimitz, Frank Strazzeri, Monte Budwig, Ed Thigpen, Nelson, and Conte Candoli.
The 'Piece D'Resistance', among others, is an 8 minute plus version of "Milestones". Using a fabulous Nelson arrangement, Frank Strozier kicks off on alto sax playing a remarkable sizzling solo that builds and builds (no wonder Miles Davis was interested in hiring him); he is then joined by an 18 year old Tom Scott on tenor sax in a simultaneous extended 'cutting session' that is something to behold; That clears the stage for Scott in reportedly his first recorded solo. Scott gets off a blistering "killer" tenor sax solo, then expertly surfs the huge malestrom of orchestral sound that leads back to the theme. The audience went crazy with applause and cheers. Truly a performance for the ages, earning a special place on my "best of the best' cassette tape.
"Miss Fine" has a wonderful extended unison horn part that one wishes could go on and on. "I Remember Bird" by Leonard Feather receives an impressive performance from Frank Strozier's angular alto sax attack. "Night Train" and "Guitar Blues" are vehicles for Mel Brown's super funky guitar fireworks. "Down By The Riverside" is a trumpet extravaganza for all four rip-roaring trumpet players, who display decidedly different attacks on the song. The band's theme, "Ja-da (Jing, Jing, Jing)", is a mellow bluesy closer for trombonist Lou Blackburn. That caps a great performance by a wonderful Jazz Orchestra and the fabulous Oliver Nelson. Originally an Impulse label album and produced by Bob Thiele, that alone should have most jazz fans reaching for their credit card out of sheer curiosity and reputation of the lable. This is a KILLER BIG BAND performance. Five Huge Stars!
(20 years ago I passed on buying this album in favor of a great Freddy Hubbard record. When I returned to the store it was gone. Ten years later I heard the track "Milestones" on Washington DC radio and recorded a fragment of it. It has fascinated me ever since. This CD finally comes back from 'unavailability' status to beguile us again. Losing Oliver Nelson at so young an age (43) denied us of his great jazz music, as well as great TV and movie themes-such as the "6 Million Dollar Man Theme" and the "Theme from Ironsides"- forever. Yet another great jazz musician leaves the bandstand too early.)"
Big-band jazz at its finest!
B. J. Lane | Levittown, PA United States | 10/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nearly 40 years have passed since Impulse released this live album...this is blazing big-band jazz at its finest - and done well in front of an appreciative crowd!!!
During his all-too-brief lifetime (gone almost 30 years now), Oliver Nelson raised the bar with his magnificent composing and arranging talents, and this album is one shining example. Any jazz band around today (even down to the high school level) ought to give this a listen to find out "how it was done back in the day."
Nelson surrounded himself with top-drawer musician talent from the LA studio scene and picked a superb selection of tunes. Although the album as a whole is awesome, there are two tunes that stood out for me:
"Milestones" - over eight minutes of no-holds-barred jazz, including blistering solos by Frank Strozier and a young (19 at the time) Tom Scott, whose own career was just at the beginning stages.
"Down by the Riverside" - Nelson employed an identical arrangement on "Jimmy and Wes - The Dynamic Duo," but this version stands out on its own merit thanks to killer interplay (individually and collectively) from an all-star trumpet section.
I saw no reason to wait for feedback from other jazz lovers like myself before grabbing this CD - I have admired Oliver Nelson's music for years, and this is one KILLER set that deserves 1,000 stars.
A long-awaited release
Steve W | New Jersey | 09/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Just glanced at a website that dismissed this Oliver Nelson reissue, which I've long awaited, saying that "nothing exciting happens." I'd dare anyone to listen to the band's version of "Milestones," with the dueling saxophones of Nelson and, I believe, Tom Scott, and not become excited. Check out Nelson's soaring poignancy on "I Remember Bird" as well...Now his fans need "Black, Brown and Beautiful" released from whoever owns the defunct Flying Dutchman catalog.