The Oliver Nelson Verve/Impulse Big Band Sessions (#233)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


The Oliver Nelson Verve/Impulse Big Band Sessions (#233)
“Oliver Nelson was perhaps the greatest jazz orchestrator and composer of the postwar era. This set which contains 15 albums and 100 tracks is a testament to Nelson’s frenetic activity and to the quality of his music” – Will Friedwald, The New York Sun
Limited Edition: 10000 copies

6 CDs -  $102.00


One of the Most Important Big Band Composers and Arrangers of the 1960s.


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"Nelson was at the peak of his formidable prowess as a writer, arranger and soloist during the five-years ('62-'67) that this set covers. This made it easy for him to attract the best studio and featured players into a situation where they would be challenged technically and artistically while bringing to life wonderfully visceral music that balances intricacy and delicacy with swing and swagger." - James Lamperetta, The Saratogian

  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
Having occupied the baritone sax chair in Lee Konitz’s nonet and in the big bands of Dave Matthews, Don Sebesky, Kenny Berger’s essay on Oliver Nelson’s big band sessions speaks from the inside. A thorough discography adds new information.

In the age of microsizing, every Mosaic Records Box Set booklet is still 11 x 11 inches to allow our customers to appreciate all the extras we put into printing them (and for easier reading).


This set boasts big band sessions gloriously captured by some of New York’s finest recording engineers (Ray Hall, Bob Simpson, Bob Arnold and Rudy Van Gelder) all lovingly mastered in 24 bit by Malcolm Addey.

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The booklet is rich in beautiful images from the actual sessions by Chuck Stewart.

Jazzhattan Suite

Jazzhattan Suite is the only recording in this collection in which Nelson was given the chance to showcase the full range of his compositional abilities in a jazz context. The Jazz Interactions Orchestra was in actuality a slightly augmented assemblage of the usual suspects working under yet another assumed name. Jazz Interactions was an organization dedicated to spreading the message of jazz to the public, and increasing the amount of performance opportunities for musicians. At the time of this recording, Jazz Interactions was quite prominent in New York and presented a long-running series of well attended Sunday afternoon performances, first at The Top of the Gate, an airy room located upstairs from the Village Gate, and later at The Red Garter, a cavernous Dixieland club with garish dark red décor (Pepper Adams once said it looked like Sophie Tucker’s tomb), and a bandstand on a huge flatbed fire truck. Two of the organization’s co-founders, Alan Pepper and Stan Snadowsky, later bought the building housing The Red Garter and resurrected it as the renowned, recently defunct Bottom Line.

Through the efforts of Jazz Interactions, Jazzmobile Inc., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and several other organizations, October 7th 1967 was designated by mayoral proclamation as Jazz Day in New York City. Jazzhattan Suite was commissioned for this event. The suite was performed twice that day: in the afternoon in Central Park, and in the evening at the Met. All this occurred at a time when the New York jazz community was making some good advances in gaining wider acceptance for the music, yet somehow seemed unable to pass up any opportunity to shoot itself in the foot. I recall attending the Central Park concert, at which a group of angry musicians were carrying picket signs protesting Nelson’s use of “studio” musicians, the term “studio” being code for the half of the band whose epidermis contained noticeably less melanin than that of the other half. One man’s personal and artistic integrity is another man’s political incorrectness. So what else is new?

The suite opens with A Typical Day In New York, which is constructed in an arch-like form, which builds gradually, peaks in the middle, and telescopes back in on itself. After a stately introduction in 4/4, the main theme, stated by clarinets, is in 9/8 meter, subdivided 2+2+2+3. The middle section, in 3/4, features an absolutely diabolical passage in 16th notes based mainly on ascending fourths, which is first stated in octaves by Patti Bown on piano, later joined by the clarinets. Patti Bown’s name is seldom mentioned among those of pioneering female jazz musicians, yet she was one of the first women to break into the freelance studio recording scene as an instrumentalist. An earthy, vivacious woman with a great sense of humor, she played with a powerful sense of swing, was always full of musical surprises and, as her work on this track shows, must have grown up practicing Hanon exercises till her fingers bled. The East Side , The West Side is a blues in 9/4. Nelson makes use of several odd meters throughout this suite and, as on this track his use of them usually feels organic, free flowing and musically appropriate, in contrast to the self- conscious, gimmicky manner in which many jazz composers used them at the time. As in the works of his idol, Duke Ellington, Nelson’s extended works are notable for their treatment of the blues in a great variety of rhythmic grooves and tone colors. One For Duke is the blues once again in an obvious tribute to Ellington. It is replete with Dukish touches including the angular melody line, plunger-muted brass, and some densely voiced writing for the clarinet-led reed section with plenty of contrary motion in the individual lines. Patti Bown contributes an energetic solo, followed by Zoot Sims in his distinctive style, in which he seems to be laughing and crying at the same time. The solos are topped off by something you don’t hear every day: some spirited four-bar exchanges between two great bassists, George Duvivier and Ron Carter. The suite ends with Complex City which begins quietly with French horns and vibraphone prominent. This section is followed by a clarinet and xylophone-dominated section that sounds like Gershwin’s An American In Paris On LSD. When things settle into a 6/4 groove we are back in blues territory with the theme stated by Woods’s alto. This is followed by an exposition of several short melodic cells in a series of shifting meters in which Nelson makes imaginative use of the clarinet choir. The blues theme is then stated in a hard swinging 4/4, leading to solos by Bown, Sims, and Newman, with vigorous hand-in-glove backing from Ed Shaughnessy’s drums and Bob Rosengarden’s bongos. The piece ends with a return to the original 6/4 blues section and builds to a powerful finale


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  The Great One.
I have own this set for along time now. I find myself going back to this one all the time and his skill as a arranger/composer is outstanding. But I hope people will not forget that on alto and tenor saxophone he was top shelf bigtime.
  The musicians
The musicians throughout this set are fantastic! Phil Woods is especially impressive. The rhythm sections are superb. I would have loved to have seen any of these bands live!
I got this one two months ago and am stuggling a bit. The band's playing and the arrangements are superb but the material and the musical choices are not always first rate. Overall, the set feels somewhat uneven to me, but when it's good it's very, very good - actually breath taking, like good Ellington.
So much variety in these 6 disks! Oliver Nelson is such a great composer and arranger --of any style. It is truly a pity that he died at such a young age. The music contained in these disks is beautiful, sad, swingin' and heartfelt. Such good players in his band. I am blown away by the Kennedy Dream, and the Pee Wee Russell set is very unique, I don't think I have heard a clarinet played like he does. One of a kind and personal is how I would describe his playing. All in all, a diverse set of music that is wonderfully presented sonically. What to get next?
  Oliver Nelsons - The Kennedy Dream
This is one of the finest pieces of music I've heard and was a wonderful memorial to President John F. Kennedy. The times were very different from now,"Hope Springs Eternal" was more than just a phrase. I just wonder why it was withheld from the public for so long, I never saw it in casette form or on CD until I purchased it from you this year. My regret was having to purchase the entire package of Oliver Nelsons music for $102.00 when I only wanted The Kennedy Dream.
  From start to finish....
this is an EXCELLENT set...Extremely tight arrangements, ALONG with Jimmy Smith on the organ! I see using this as nice background music for a party...
This set is nicely varied--Jimmy Smith, Milt Jackson, Phil Woods, Pee Wee Russell and so forth...each featured at various points in this set playing the outstanding arrangments of Oliver Nelson. This is a great sounding set, one of my favorites from Mosaic. Highly Recommended
  Less than Full Nelson
Over the years, jazz lovers have come to appreciate most of the material now compiled in this marvelous array of big band music. While it’s plain to see that some of the Verve and Impulse sessions “fall outside the big band context that is the focus of this set“, I don’t quite understand why the entire 1965 “Monster“ session (V6-8618) was omitted. It contains one of my favorite Nelson/Smith tracks, “The Creeper“, and might indeed be rated as essential in this context.
  Embarassment of Riches
So much Oliver! What a treat, and this set makes me appreciate Nelson even more than I did--which is saying a lot. Just a few highlights: a treasure trove of vintage 60's Phil Woods, with his unmistakeable sound leading the reeds; discovering just how wonderful an anchor Danny Bank is; the masterful playing throughout, especially on Peter and the Wolf...The cut "Paris Blues" alone is worth the price of the set. Listen to Woods just SING the lead theme! To me, the weakest stuff is the Jimmy Smith material--only because he tends to overplay at times--but Nelson's orchestrations are great under him. And the liner notes are by far the funniest of any Mosaic set I have, and I've got a bunch. Thank you guys...
  Send more Maynard.......
Well, I'm mostly kidding with the title. I just like tweaking the Mosaic guys for their extremely arbitrary marketing decisions. The Europeans are effectively patching the holes in MF's CD reissue canvas. They know our Jazz masterpieces better than we do anyway. The Nelson set IS incredible. (I borrowed a set from a friend before placing the order) It's a welcome adjunct to Kenton's (Rugolo and Rogers)orchestratively pioneering efforts. Five stars.......
this set couldnt get any better.the arrangements are solid, and moving. big band so tight its hard to hear any flaws.
  " I became aware" by Frank Dziedziak"
There were so many jazz lps released in this period of time. So many were great recordings with talented players who were pushing the envelope of the jazz avant--guard. Eric Dolphy was leading the charge, Booker Little was addind his beautiful but sad arrangements and his beautiful tone.Even the position of drummer held a new meanning with the appearance of Tony williams. All of this "new ground" was expanding even to the sound track world where at this time Oliver Nelson was applying his genius. He also was releasing masterpieces like "blues in the Abstract truth. His sound track work was a way to get the public to hear this new sound and Oliver made sure that he made few or no comprimises. His contributation to the would of creativity was a huge one and now in the year 2006, it still holds up as a foward seeking sound often immated and even copied. This record is a great example of his work and I am so happy that now I can get a fresh copy to treasure for life. I have been a jazz fan for 35 years, a fan that alway's looked for records that said something new.Here is a great example of Mr. Nelson at his best. Do you want to expand you're horizons, buy this record.

The Oliver Nelson Verve/Impulse Big Band Sessions (#233)
The Oliver Nelson Verve/Impulse Big Band Sessions (#233)
Limited Edition: 10000 copies
6 CDs - $102.00

Customer Reviews:

"This set couldn't get any better.The arrangements are solid, and moving. Big band so tight its hard to hear any flaws."
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