Meet Oliver Nelson marked the leader recording debut of a considerable talent in tenor saxophonist Oliver Nelson (1932-1975). He was to win even greater acclaim later as a composer and arranger, but at 27 he was already a vastly experienced performer and a notably imaginative soloist, affectingly sensitive on ballads like Passion Flower and What’s New, with a voluminous sound, full and fiery, on more driving material. For his debut he had simpatico company in trumpeter Kenny Dorham, so lyrical on Booze Baby Blues, and a shrewdly chosen rhythm section in pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Art Taylor. It was a noteworthy beginning.
Recorded almost two years later, “Main Stem” was much more like a typical Prestige blowing session of the time, heavily dependant on the wit and invention of the participants. Fortunately, Nelson again chose his colleagues well. Trumpeter Joe Newman is particularly good and pianist Hank Jones is his usual lucidly impeccable self in a swinging rhythm section with bassist George Duvivier and drummer Charlie Persip, while the leader, on both alto and tenor, produces an abundance of melodic, well-constructed solos over a satisfying session.
[1-6] from the album Meet Oliver Nelson (New Jazz NJLP 8224). KENNY DORHAM, trumpet OLIVER NELSON, tenor sax RAY BRYANT, piano WENDELL MARSHALL, bass
& ART TAYLOR, drums
Englewood Cliffs, NJ, on October 30, 1959.
[7-12] from the album Main Stem (Prestige PR 7236)J
JOE NEWMAN, trumpet
OLIVER NELSON, alto & tenor sax
HANK JONES, piano
GEORGE DUVIVIER, bass
CHARLIE PERSIP, drums
& RAY BARRETO, conga
Englewood Cliffs, NJ, on August 25, 1961.
01. Jams and Jellie
02. Passion Flower
03. Don’t Stand Up
05. What’s New?
06. Booze Blues Baby
07. Main Stem
08. J & B