Nelson, Oliver (Edward)

views updated

Nelson, Oliver (Edward)

Nelson, Oliver (Edward), jazz composer, arranger, alto and tenor saxophonist, flutist; b. St. Louis, June 4, 1932; d. L.A., Oct. 28, 1975. One of the most respected composers of the 1960s, his bold writing style employed distinctive patterns. Though he was featured less and less as a soloist, he had a searing tone and played carefully chosen notes with great intensity. Raised in a musical family, he began on piano and played in public as a child. He worked with Jeter Pillars as a teenager and in 1951 played second alto saxophone with Louis Jordan. After serving in the U.S. Marines and studying music formally with Robert Wykes at Washington Univ. in St. Louis (1954–1958), Nelson moved to N.Y., where he studied privately with Elliot Carter. He worked with Wild Bill Davis and with Louis Bellson in Calif., and was with Quincy Jones from 1960–61. He was prolific as a jazz composer, writing for Jimmy Smith, Billy Taylor, Wes Montgomery, and many others, and was also highly regarded for his classical and studio work. In 1967, he settled in Los Angeles. He wanted to perform more and do less TV and film work, but died suddenly of a heart attack before he could realize his goal.


Saxophone Sonata (1957); Songs for Contralto and Piano (1957); Divertimento for 10 Woodwinds and Double Bass (1957); Afro-American Sketches for Jazz Ensemble (1960); Blues and the Abstract Truth for Jazz Ensemble (1960); Woodwind Quintet (1960); Dirge for Chamber Orch. (1961); Soundpiece for Contralto, String Quartet, and Piano (1963); Soundpiece for Jazz Orch. (1964); Patterns for Jazz Ensemble (1965); A Study in 5/4 for Wind Ensemble (1966); Concerto for Xylophone, Marimba, Vibes, and Wind Orch. (1967); The Kennedy Dream Suite for Jazz Ensemble (1967); Jazzhattan Suite for Jazz Orch. (N.Y, Oct. 7, 1967); Septet for Wind Orch. (1968); Piece for Orch. and Jazz Soloists (1969); A Black Suite for Narrator, String Quartet, and Jazz Orch. (1970); Berlin Dialogue for Jazz Orch. (Berlin, 1970); Concert Piece for Alto Saxophone and Studio Orch. (1972); Fugue and Bossa for Wind Orch. (1973); also a sterling jazz arrangement of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf (1966) and music for films and television.


Meet O.N.(1959); Takin’ Care of Business (1960); Soul Battle (1960); Screamin’ the Blues (1960); Nocturne (1960); Images (1960); Straight Ahead (1961); Main Stem (1961); Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961); Afro-American Sketches (1961); Impressions of Phaedra (1962); Full N.(1962); More Blues & Abstract Truth (1964); Fantabulous (1964); Sound Pieces (1966); Musical Tribute to JFK (1967); Live from L.A.(1967); Live in Berlin (1970); Black, Brown and Beautiful (1970); Berlin Dialogue for Orch.(1970); Swiss Suite (1971); Stolen Moments (1975); Dream Deferred (1976).


Blues and the Abstract Thought (E.B. Marks Music); Patterns for Jazz (Los Angeles, 1966; originally titled Patterns for Saxophone).

Music Master Jazz and Blues Catalogue/Lewis Porter