Joel Pirard: EvO:R staff Reviewer.
Soul Eyes -
by Alva Nelson
I put this CD in the machine. I had never heard of this person.
Who the hell is he?
Well suffice to say, he is ALVA NELSON. Yes with CAPS.
IF you appreciate composition, style, SOUL, in a piano/jazz/blues setting, you must run to your computer, to your music outlet (yes there still are some!) and order /download this CD.
Reading Alva’s bio from All About Jazz website, “Alva Nelson has played the Montreux Jazz Festival, North Sea Festival and led his own group at NYC’s Blue Note." He has performed with Lightnin’ Hopkins, Kirk Whalum, David “Fathead” Newman, Arnett Cobb, Phyllis Hyman, Regina Belle, and Eddie Harris”to name just a few. Nelson has traveled the globe accompanying the Boys’ Choir of Harlem, received multiple honors (from the NEA, IAJE and others) and was awarded three Meet the Composer commissions (most recently for a performance of his multidiscipline African ensemble at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival.)”
Frankly, a lot of these names mean little to me, being a rock guy, but because of my appreciation of the likes of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Thelonius Monk, Keith Emerson, ( when he plays piano) etc, and the improve style and downright chops of these guys, I can tell you that Alva belongs right up there with these guys. Yessir!
Now to the CD.
SOUL EYES starts off very energetically with a track called Synonymous Dichotomy, with some rapid fire piano, ably backed on most of the tracks by Chris White (bass), Cecil Brooks III, (drums), Larry Washington (percussion). These guys feature on tracks 1 and 8. White does a great bass solo in this as well. Lightning fast piano and smooth, so smooth rhythms abound here... This is like saying “here I am”.
What a greeting.
Nelson continues with a variety of pieces also featuring Harry Anderson on bass on several tracks, for piano/bass duets. Sanctified Blues is a fun solo piano track with a rollicking barrelhouse piano style. Nelson explores interpretation of other’s works as well. A solo rendition of J Green’s ‘Body and Soul’ is a really moving version of a great classic. Great chops again abound, but with feeling!
Another standout is ‘a la Jarrett’ another Nelson piece, which obviously is a tribute to Keith Jarrett, the whole band on a kick-ass romp. Other great tracks abound, culminating in a wonderful interpretation of ‘Round Midnight’ T. Monk’s great classic.
Awards Nelson has received:
• National Endowment for the Arts Study Fellowships 1976/1980 • International Association of Jazz Educators 1976/1977 • Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition 1989 • The Composers Guild 1983/1985/1987 • Meet The Composer 1983/1997
THIS CD SHOWS US WHY. GET IT!
Samples from the CD:
Samples provided by a direct link to the artist's page on CD Baby
/synonymous dichotomy /soul eyes /gemini baby /sanctified blues
/body and soul/ /sweetcake /some other time/ /a la Jarrett
/song for keisha /buster's bounce/ /'round midnight/
Setting the bar for the next generation of Jazz greats Alva Nelson has hit the ground running. This CD is a first class effort and worth owning. Unfortunately it is only available for single song downloads from CD Baby but go ahead and sample this guys songs and add a few MP3's to your collection.
Joel Pirard...EvO:R staff Reviewer.