Saturday 29 January 2011

Freak Out

Oliver Nelson was a musical giant who was unfortunate to live in an era of supergiants. Most famous for the classic cool jazz of "Stolen Moments" his music was all over the 1970's as incidental compostions for TV shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man, Columbo and Ironside, as well as arrangements for films such as Last Tango In Paris and records by the likes of James Brown, Nancy Wilson and The Temptations.

Nelson's life was largely one of incident-free dedication, being both a consummate professional and an educator who spent a great deal of his time in the practical teaching of music. He was one of the quiet but ceaselessly active backroom technicians who keep the cogs of the music industry turning, while drawing little attention to themselves and creating opportunities for others.

His last record before his tragic death of a heart attack in 1975 was "Skull Session", that took a wild new direction that was deeper out and farther in than even Miles Davis's fusion work. Its brain-frying stereo-panning synths anticipate the sci-fi gonzo rock of his fellow Los Angeleans Chrome. It's fascinating to speculate how Nelson's music could have evolved over the rest of the decade, perhaps succeeding in a true fusion of jazz, funk and rock that seemed to evade everybody else who tried it.


David K Wayne said...

There's a great movie lurking inside that second one...

Phil Knight said...

Amazed no-one spotted the deliberate error.

(Chrome were from SF)