Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nelson's "Screamin' the Blues" Merits Attention

One of my recent downloads from emusic was of the Oliver Nelson, Screamin' the Blues. Originally issued on Prestige's New Jazz imprint in 1963, this 1960 session includes a strong band that included Eric Dolphy, trumpeter Richard Williams, pianist Richard Wyands, bassist George Duvivier and the great Roy Haynes on drums. This is a similar group in composition to that on the classic The Blues and the Abstract Truth, although that session had Paul Chambers on bass, Bill Evans on piano and Freddie Hubbard on trumpet. Five of the six numbers are Nelson originals and this disc perhaps does not quite reach the level of the earlier date but it has many impressive moments. There is the contrast between Dolphy's alto leaps, Williams' muted trumpet and Nelson's full-bodied tenor on the late night blues Three Seconds, while the title track opens with Nelson on alto sounding as so much like Louis Jordan that I was expecting him to start singing, as Dolphy and Williams riff in the background, before Wyands takes a nice solo with a hint of gut bucket, before Nelson takes a more modern solo followed by Williams and then Dolphy on bass clarinet. The Meeting, has a bit of the flavor of Hoe Down, with its country-tinged flavor. March On, March On, is the one tune not composed by Nelson but the performance fits in well in this session. Nelson's strong tenor is exhibited in The Drive. There is plenty for Dolphy fans to savor and the rest of the band is strong. This is a 31/2 to 4 star (out of 5) effort using that arcane rating system.

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