Few jazz artists in history have a single album which stands out so far ahead of the rest of their discography than saxophonist Oliver Nelson. His 1961 masterpiece ‘The Blues and The Abstract Truth‘ has stood the test of time – both commercially and critically – and is (in our opinion) a must-have in every jazz aficionado’s collection!
The fascinating mix of styles and harmonic subtleties in The Blues and The Abstract Truth is perhaps to be expected from the outset, given a line-up of musicians who would never play together in that same formation again.
Nelson leads a group which blends the romantic stylings of pianist Bill Evans with the avant-garde of Eric Dolphy and the hard bop tradition of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, on top of a rhythm section featuring Paul Chambers (bass) and Roy Haynes (drums) with the subtle but impactful addition of George Barrow on baritone saxophone.
A true musician-favourite, it’s opening track, Stolen Moments, has embedded itself firmly into the modern jazz standard repertoire, appearing on recordings by artists as diverse as Mark Murphy, Ahmad Jamal, Frank Zappa and Carmen McRae.
Recorded on February 23, 1961, at the Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, it’s a collection of six tracks, each offering a unique take on the blues format within a modern jazz context.
With its compositional depth and challenging of the standard formats of the time it remains, 6 decades later, a monumental work in the history of jazz albums.