Oliver Nelson was one of the more distinctive arrangers to be active in jazz, the studios, and popular music of the '60s. While most Nelson reissues focus on his always-excellent saxophone playing (whether on tenor or alto), this six-CD set, Argo, Verve and Impulse Big Band Studio Sessions, focuses on Oliver Nelson the arranger-composer-bandleader. He does take solos on some of these dates on tenor, alto,and soprano (his only recorded solos on that instrument), but it his writing that takes center stage.
I cannot for the life of me find a thing wrong or amiss with this cd. I've been playing it for years and always love it. I know all about Canned Heat's tragic and illustrious past, and I'm not knocking those old records (most of them were great); but, it should be said by someone - the Canned Heat albums beginning with "Reheated" straight to the present - leave the old ones in the dust. Leaving behind the excessive reverence for the past (if you can, and you know who you are), there's one thing that has never changed about this band.
GarciaLive Volume Ten documents the Jerry Garcia Band's May 20, 1990 performance at the Hilo Civic Auditorium in Hawaii. In this relaxed setting, it's no wonder that the music from this show shines so brightly both in Garcia's strong vocals and guitar playing but also the joyful setlist spanning some of Jerry's favorite corners of music Dylan, Motown, Reggae, and Rock & Roll. Spurred on by the ever-steady rhythm section of Dave Kemper and John Kahn, complete with the celestial sounds of Melvin Seals' organ and background vocals of Gloria Jones and Jacklyn LaBranch.
Concerts with Maria Schneider are something special. They are stylistically not only out of the ordinary, they also manage to bring large orchestras to perform artistically at high voltage, with an energy and at a creative level which is otherwise known only in much smaller ensembles. It is not the music alone that drives the participants, but rather the serene seriousness of a band leader who demands a maximum of intensity from her compositions and passes this premise on to their interpretation. It is impossible to conceive of compositions for jazz orchestras more stringently. The instrumentalists know this too, and therefore feel called upon not only to reproduce the charts accurately but to work out all the contained hints, implications, and visions of sound down to the deepest levels. This original recording was made in May 2000 when Schneider appeared alongside the SWR Big Band. And for the SWR Big Band, those days in May 2000 are some of the highlights of their orchestral history.