Alva Nelson Music Reviews
Posted by: editoron Friday, September 11, 2009 - 08:47 AM
By: Edward Blanco

New York-based pianist and composer Alva Nelson has served as a sideman, producer, musical director in theater and scored music for public television documentaries. Now, after several recording sessions between 1993 and 1997, this Texas-born son of a Pentecostal minister, has finally kept the faith and releases this long-awaited debut “Soul Eyes,” a self published eleven-track CD blending sparkling originals and four covers in a gem of a recording that deserves serious consideration. Beginning with the opening “Synonymous Dichotomy” original, Nelson's muscular piano chords sets the stage for this album. This fast-paced tune comes out swinging featuring hard piano lines, strong bass work from Chris White and a lively percussive background with Cecil Brooks III splashing the cymbals and pounding the drums as Larry Washington lends a touch on percussions.

In contrast to the bouncy starter, Nelson slows it down on Mal Waldon's title piece “Soul Eyes,” a beautiful ballad he performs solo. On “Gemini Baby” Nelson showcases not only his knack for composing but his enormous talents on the keys playing seven-minute s of light jazz on a beautiful and melodic number. The Edward Heyman/John Green classic “Body and Soul,” the favorite of saxophone players, is provided delicate treatment from Nelson as he runs his fingers all over the keys in another magical solo performance. The other timeless standard that the pianist treats with warmth is the Leonard Bernstein tune, “Some Other Time.” The last cover included here is Thelonious Monk's signature chart “Round Midnight,” also given a cushy feel with Nelson's respectful solo performance.

Other note worthy originals include “Song for Keisha,” “Buster's Bounce” and “a La Jarrett” which starts out slowly with a crisp Nelson introduction then changes direction turning into a furious barn burner of a tune reminiscent of a Keith Jarrett performance and saving some of his best chops on the piano. A single sampling of “Soul Eyes” is more than enough to convince the discerning jazz audience and aficionado alike that Alva Nelson is a pianist well worth waiting for and “Soul Eyes,” well worth a listen and repeated spins, highly recommended.

Year: 2009
Label: Self Published

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