Oliv­er Nel­son died in 1975 at 43 of a heart at­tack; he’d be a leg­end if he’d lived a lit­tle longer. Nowa­days he’s most­ly re­mem­bered for The Blues and the Ab­stract Truth from 1961, and Stolen Mo­ments is the song on that record that’s al­ways stuck to the back of my brain.

Original Blues and Abstract Truth
· · ·
The Blues and the Abstract Truth

The orig­i­nal cov­er and the 1990 re-issue;
both with su­perb ty­pog­ra­phy.

Nel­son was a University-trained com­poser, who did well by jazz but was al­ways writ­ing mu­sic for one type of en­sem­ble or an­oth­er. The Blues and the Ab­stract Truth is a straight-ahead jazz al­bum with an all-star band in­clud­ing Eric Dol­phy, Bill Evan­s, Fred­die Hub­bard, Paul Cham­ber­s, and Roy Hay­nes. Boy, can they ev­er play.

Stolen Mo­ments is ob­vi­ous­ly a jazz num­ber, but equal­ly the work of a com­pos­er, with sec­tions that have thought­ful re­la­tion­ships to the sec­tions be­fore and af­ter them. It’s full of melod­ic gems and rhyth­mic in­di­rec­tion and, with that band, the breaks are ob­vi­ous­ly fab­u­lous. It’s thought­ful, un­hur­ried, tasty mu­sic.

This is the 124th in the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. There’s no live video of Oliv­er Nel­son per­form­ing this, and he wasn’t that much of a show­man. But there are plen­ty of Stolen Mo­ments out there. I’m go­ing to pick a per­for­mance by Bill Cunliffe’s band, which doesn’t sound much like Nelson’s take, but it’s taste­ful and in­tel­li­gent and good.

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May 04, 2018
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