Blues and the Abstract Truth – Impulse!/Analogue Productions/Universal

by | Nov 27, 2010 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Blues and the Abstract Truth – Impulse!/Analogue Productions/Universal stereo-only SACD CIPJ 5 SA, 36.7 min. [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:

(Oliver Nelson, alto & tenor sax; Eric Dolphy, alto sax & flute; Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; George Barrow, bari. sax; Bill Evans, piano; Paul Chambers, doublebass; Roy Haynes, drums)

This is one of the most essential modern jazz recordings, right up there in Kind of Blue territory.  Just look at the members of this septet up there! The date was back in 1961 for the new Impulse! label, and was a perfect combination of Nelson’s conception as composer and arranger (he was responsible for all six tracks), plus the very best players to execute it. Nelson wrote the liner notes himself, and they are very musicological – detailing the bar form of each tune, its structure, key, and which musician takes which solo. He reported that the basic blues – based on the form and chord structure of Gershwin’s “I’ve Got Rhythm” – provided his material for all six compositions.  However, Nelson’s genius transforms that into a continuously varied bunch of musical moments.

The playing is second to none. The six musicians that Nelson brought together are a dream group, similar to several such aggregations that came together around that time but don’t seem to have occurred recently.  The solos from experimentalist Dolby are explosive and in your face – in contrast to those of Nelson on tenor sax, which are quieter and more sparse of notes. Nelson’s opening “Stolen Moments” has to be one of the super-classic tunes in jazz.  Nelson explains that “Cascades” began as a saxophone exercise he penned while in school; here he expands it into septet form.

The sonics of the original tapes have been beautifully remastered to stereo SACD by the engineers at Acoustic Sounds.  The various horn solos sound like they are right in your lap. Of course the album is also available in many other configurations – vinyl, CD, downloads, and the new very expensive Japanese SHM-CD.

Stolen Moments, Hoe-Down, Cascades, Yearin’, Butch and Butch, Teenie’s Blues.

— John Henry

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