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5.0 out of 5 stars Get it. You'll love it., July 18 2004
This review is from: Blues And The Abstract Truth (Audio CD)
This is a classic. This is one of those rare supergroup types of gatherings that lives up to the hype.
Although these three Oliver Nelson albums don't have the exact same personnel, I consider them all sisters, and classics. This one (Blues and the Abstract Truth), Screamin' the Blues, and Straight Ahead. All three of these are essential, in my opinion. Yes Abstract is the one that gets more press, but if you haven't heard Screamin' and Straight Ahead, you are missing some excellent music.
Stolen Moments and Yearnin' are what I would consider to be the two legendary melodies here, but the whole album is packed full of greatness. Yearnin' is also interesting to me because in a way, it has some of my least favorite Dolphy playing. The melody is beautiful, but when Dolphy enters his solo he does so in an abrasive way that really doesn't fit the song. In a sense, he shatters the mood of the song. It's odd to hear this from him. Then one song later he enters his solo in epic fashion. It's one of my all-time favotite Dolphy moments.
If you're anything like me, every time you listen to one of these three Nelson albums you'll wonder to yourself why Nelson himself isn't more often thought of as one of the best tenor players ever. His tone is so gorgeous and his playing is creative and emotional. He almost never fails to move me and surprise me. He could have been the best tenor player in any church in America.
As usual, Chambers and Haynes are right on, always. They propel this band like only the greats can do. I can't help but think that no bass player ever, aside from maybe James Jamerson (Motown), played on more legendary sessions than Paul.
Also, I love the quality of this recording. The tones are so full and rich, and there is an almost magical glow around every note. This is one of those albums where it all came together.
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5.0 out of 5 stars All star jazz cast, March 2 2004
By 
Enrique Torres "Rico" (San Diegotitlan, Califas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blues And The Abstract Truth (Audio CD)
Never heard this disc before? Not sure if it would be for you? Read all the customer reviews here and you'll notice several things , with the exception of one four star rating all the others have given it five stars and praise as one of the all time best studio recordings in the field of jazz. Look at the personnel. It is a who's who of the best and leaders in their own right but on this occasion they were under the guidance of Oliver Nelson who writes all the compositions, arranges the music and oh, by the way , plays alto and tenor saxophone on this disc. The music is complex and for musicians who undrerstand the time measurements and even those like myself who are less versed in the structure of music, the music is arranged in simply iiresistible melodies. For those of us who don't understand musical structure but appreciate beautiful harmony it just sounds tight. The structure with each song is one that changes with different harmonic progressions interlaced with outstanding solos by the giants on their perspective instruments, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Bil Evans on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, Eric Dolphy on alto saxophone and flute, Roy Haynes on drums and additional saxophone work by George Barrow on barritone and Oliver Neslson on alto and tenor saxophone. This is jazz as it was intended to be in 1961; pure , unadulterated, deep but accessible soulful instumentals based on the blues structure but totally original. Some others have suggested this to be the proverbial desert island music. It definitely ranks way up there on a short list of jazz discs that don't come around very often and as near to perfection as possible. Again look at the contributors that made this possible , produced by Cecil Taylor and engineered by the one man team of Rudy Van Gelder just polish up the all star cast. Of all the songs my absolute fave is "Stolen Moments" that is introduced by Hubbards soft, soulful eloquent trumpet that lays the foundation for a trip down a very cool passage into Dolphy's fine flute work and Nelson's sax that is methodically accentuated by the thumping bass line of Chambers for a swinging introduction to the piano of Evans and the beginning to one of the best jazz discs of all time. If you are into jazz then you know how good this disc is, it is nearly flawless in all regards. If you are learning about jazz, go back to 1961 to experience this classic. A worthwhile addition to any collection of music and essential for jazz collections this disc is highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Speaks the truth..., Feb. 4 2004
By 
"howlinw" (California USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blues And The Abstract Truth (Audio CD)
Sometimes in music you get one of those rare moments when "it" just comes together and the results are classic. "It" is hard to define-- it's more than just the session men (too many "supergroups" fail for various reasons), the era (timeless music tends to actually transcend its era), or the composer. Something has to happen- something that could almost be attributed to magic or a spiritual force- to create a recording or performance that works on every level and then some. Well, this is one of those moments in history where you clearly have "it." What's great about this record- to me- is the sound. It's not blues, it's not chamber music. It's deep and resonating, echoing and rich. It's really its own thing- it might smack of big band or bebop but it's more. "Kind of Blue" also has this sound, and is a good comparison. My suggestion is to put this on in a darkened room at night and let it play all the way through, at least once. You'll swear you had a spiritual experience. Not often can that be said for a record.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The real thing, Aug. 27 2003
By 
Eric J. Lyman (Roma, Lazio Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blues And The Abstract Truth (Audio CD)
This is one of the few jazz CDs that manages to live up to its reputation without sounding like a cliché. Oliver Nelson's too-short career had a big impact on many who followed him and there is no shortage of musicians who copied (or tried to copy) his eclectic and cosmopolitan style. But the sound is still fresh and beautiful and absorbing more than 40 years after it was recorded.
Over the last couple of decades, it seems like the term "jazz" has been expanded to include a great deal of unstructured and repetitive music that would have made Louis Armstrong or Count Basie cringe. But The Blues and Abstract Truth is a great example of what made jazz great.
In addition to Oliver Nelson -- one long note he holds on "Yearnin'" is so pure it'll bring tears to your eyes -- pay special attention to Bill Evans' piano, which really makes the whole thing gel. Just great.
It's the kind of music that you wish could go on all night, and so my one criticism is that the whole recording lasts just a little over 35 minutes. Luckily, my CD player has a function allowing it to be replayed when it finishes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Legendary session lives up to reputation., April 7 2002
By 
Samuel Chell (Kenosha,, WI United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blues And The Abstract Truth (Audio CD)
Oliver Nelson's name seems to be overlooked these days in comparison to that of other composer-arrangers of the period such as Gil Evans, Charles Mingus, and Quincy Jones. This classic session should help set the record straight: he was every bit as much a dominant figure on his instrument (alto and tenor sax) as Mingus and well on his way to becoming one of the creative masters at combining a composer's ideas with the expressive strengths of the individual musicians in an ensemble. Besides highlighting Oliver's tunes, the album demonstrates why Freddie Hubbard is frequently referred to as "the man" on his instrument between Clifford and Wynton. And Bill Evans' inventive melodic lines establish him, at this time, as a player most ready to assume the mantle of the failing Bud Powell. On the other hand, to fully appreciate the structured melodic/harmonic tensions and individual sound of Oliver himself as a soloist, there are better choices than this album, namely some of his earlier work for the Prestige label.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In the Company of "Kind of Blue," "A Love Supreme", June 29 2000
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This review is from: Blues And The Abstract Truth (Audio CD)
"The Blues and the Abstract Truth" comes just about as close to perfection as a studio recording can. With the all-star cast that it has, including Bill Evans, Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Paul Chambers, and Roy Haynes, there's almost no way it could have been a mediocre recording. However, when you factor in Oliver Nelson's great skill in composition and his minimalist solos that contrast so well with Dolphy and Hubbard's frenetic energy, this album nears the ranks of such jazz milestones as "Kind of Blue" and "A Love Supreme." That is what one can deduce from reviews and info about the album. Listening to it takes it to that final rung on the ladder, in such company as the afore-mentioned albums. The musical interplay between these jazz masters and the overall relaxed yet inspired feel of it exceeds the already lofty expectations for this 1961 session. Stolen Moments holds its rightful place as one of jazz's finest compositions, but this album has not received the recognition it should for being one of jazz's finest recordings -- all of the six compositions should be standards. I highly recommend this album, and am sure you will be captivated from the opening notes of Stolen Moments to Oliver Nelson's introduction to Hoe-Down ("Hoe-Down...1, 2, 3, 4") to the wonderfully descriptive melody of Cascades and throughout the rest of the album. You will not be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed, Feb. 25 2000
By 
Tyler Smith (Denver, CO United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blues And The Abstract Truth (Audio CD)
This is one of those jazz recordings that managed to capture lightning -- that is to say, recording magic -- in a bottle. Its pacing is perfect, its arrangements sublime, and the first-rate players, all of whom would be worth listening to on their worst day, offer inspired work.
Nelson, a fine tenor player in his own right, is surrounded by extraordinary talent: Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Haynes. But this is Nelson's album: not only does he play beautifully himself, he contributed the compositions and the arrangements, all of which have a note-perfect quality that could only be achieved by an artist in absolute command of his material.
Each tune is a joy in its own right, but the highlight for me (just ahead of the joyful "Hoedown") is "Stolen Moments," which has rightfully become a jazz standard. It's a tune that never fails to remind me of the difference between a true jazz composition and a blowing session. In the latter, solos are taken for their own sake. In "Stolen Moments," the solos are flawless, but each player extends on the previous statement. For example, the transition chord that Bill Evans plays between Oliver Nelson's solo and his own is a perfect reply that shows how carefully he was listening to Oliver's playing. The communication deepens the pleasure of listening to the performance.
Like Miles' "Kind of Blue" and a handful of other jazz albums, "Blues and the Abstract Truth" could be put into a vault for listeners a thousand years hence to find. I'm sure they'd be just as impressed as the rest of us have been.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best of an era, June 4 1998
By 
Michael J. Edelman (Huntington Woods, MI USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blues And The Abstract Truth (Audio CD)
Oliver Nelson's career was short but brilliant. As a composer, arranger and performer, he led one of the most exciting and innovative groups of his era. Like Mingus, Schueller and other contemporaries, Nelson was writing a new American classical music, drawing on traditional European classical music, the big band and bop traditions, country music and the blues. Nelson's music is tightly composed and arranged, but still leaves plenty of room for soloists to swing. This album is probably his most famous, and it's certainly one of my favorite jazz albums from any era. If you grew up in the modern era where the "jazz" label has come to mean either repetitive quasi-rock with complex harmonies or just a catch-all term for unstructured music, buy this album and learn what jazz can be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the loveliest alto sax solos in the music, July 30 2000
By 
Ian Muldoon (Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blues And The Abstract Truth (Audio CD)
When, dear listener, we recall the loveliest of all alto sax sounds most of us might recall Paul Desmond (on TANGERINE perhaps, from Mr Brubeck's TIME SIGNATURES) or Johnny Hodges (on WARM VALLEY perhaps, from Mr Ellington's THE BLANTON-WEBSTER BANDS)but I also recall Oliver Nelson's solo on STOLEN MOMENTS where the almost keening sound of joy and longing that he gets from his instrument, the beauty of the composition and the structure of the solo with its tension and release and resolution, make it, for me, one of those magic moments of music. Maybe it was the company he was in, with three certified geniuses and a couple of giants, but whatever it was the magic came this time. An uncommon moment. Desert island disc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A beatutifuly inspired performance, Aug. 11 2000
By 
Amazon Customer "jazzfanmn" (St Cloud, MN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blues And The Abstract Truth (Audio CD)
This cd is a classic session lead by Oliver Nelson's tenor, alto and fantastic arrangements. The group includes Eric Dolphy on flute and alto, Bill Evans on piano, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Paul Chambers on bass, and Roy Haynes on drums. This album is highlighted by the inspired, masterful work of all those involved. The first track "Stolen Moments" is a beautiful example of Oliver's compositional skill, and is highlighted by a by Nelson's soulful tenor solo. Absolutely everyone is in top shape, check out the solos by Dolphy and Hubbard on "Yearnin'", they absolutely cook. This cd is a bonafide classic and is not to be missed.
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Blues And The Abstract Truth
Blues And The Abstract Truth by Oliver Nelson (Audio CD - 1995)
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