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Night Lights Classic Jazz

Full Nelson: Oliver Nelson’s 1960s Big-Band Recordings

"Full Nelson" looks at the 1960s studio big-band recordings of saxophonist, arranger, and composer Oliver Nelson.

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“Full Nelson” looks at the 1960s studio big-band recordings of saxophonist, arranger, and composer Oliver Nelson, who would have turned 75 on June 4, 2007. Nelson is best-known in the jazz world for his small-group Impulse LP Blues and the Abstract Truth; outside of that world he’s been heard by many more people who don’t even know of him, through the scoring he did for 1960s and 1970s television shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man. Nelson died young, at the age of 43 in 1975, and many of his 1960s big-band records, which demonstrate the wide scope of his writing abilities, have been out of print. This program will draw on a recent Mosaic Records collection of those albums, including tracks from Full Nelson, Jazzhattan Suite, and Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of Jazz All Stars, as well as Nelson’s collaborations with artists such as Pee Wee Russell, Jimmy Smith, and Ray Brown and Milt Jackson.

Note: Nelson’s 1961 Prestige LP Afro-American Sketches will be included in a forthcoming program. The previous Night Lights program Dear Martin features several selections from Nelson’s Martin Luther King tribute album Black, Brown, and Beautiful.

Watch an edition of the Oliver Nelson big band featuring Gato Barbieri:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKzQpzEQah4

Nelson in a small-group setting circa 1966 with Art Farmer and Lee Konitz:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NshwQGnDQ4U

Music Heard On This Episode

A Typical Day in New York
Oliver Nelson — Jazzhattan Suite (Verve, 1967)
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A Typical Day in New York
Oliver Nelson — Jazzhattan Suite (Verve, 1967)
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Miss Fine
Oliver Nelson — Full Nelson (Verve, 1963)

Notes: Title taken from the nickname for Nelson's sister Leontine.

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Ballad for Benny
Oliver Nelson — Full Nelson (Verve, 1962)

Notes: Nelson composition originally commissioned by Benny Goodman.

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Hoe Down
Oliver Nelson — Full Nelson (Verve, 1962)

Notes: A Nelson composition initially recorded for his 1961 Impulse LP BLUES & THE ABSTRACT TRUTH.

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St. Louis Blues
Oliver Nelson — Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz: The 1960s, V. 1 (Verve, 1966)
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Patterns for Orchestra
Oliver Nelson — Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz: The 1960s, V. 1 (Verve, 1966)
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A Bientot
Oliver Nelson — Fantabulous (Argo, 1964)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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The East Side/the West Side
Oliver Nelson — Jazzhattan Suite (Verve, 1967)
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Lined With a Groove
Ray Brown/Milt Jackson — Ray Brown/Milt Jackson (Verve, 1965)

Notes: Oliver Nelson arranged and conducted big band.

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Day in Dallas
Oliver Nelson — The Kennedy Dream (Impulse, 1967)

Notes: From an LP tribute to John F. Kennedy.

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Pee Wee's Blues
Pee Wee Russell — Spirit of '67 (Impulse, 1967)

Notes: Oliver Nelson arranged and conducted big band.

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Elegy for a Duck
Jimmy Smith — Peter and the Wolf (Verve, 1966)

Notes: Oliver Nelson composition. Nelson arranged and conducted big band.

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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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