Thursday, November 24, 2011

Myron Moss: American Wind Symphony 'afforded Nelson his greatest opportunities in concert-music composition.'

[TOP: Out of the Depths: Music by African-American Composers; Keystone Wind Ensemble; Jack Stamp, Conductor; Citadel 88143 (2002)] BOTTOM: Oliver Nelson (]

Many music websites do not carry Out of the Depths, but we have been able to obtain it from one source,, for $8.99 plus shipping. Oliver Nelson is composer of the final two tracks on Out of the Depths: Music by African-American Composers, Fugue (3:41) and Bossa (4:03). Dr. Myron D. Moss tells us in the liner notes:

“This recording concludes with Oliver Nelson's Fugue and Bossa. Nelson (1932-1975) is well known as a jazz saxophonist and composer whose 'Blues and the Abstract Truth' album is commonly included on lists of all-time best jazz recordings. Robert Boudreau, the enterprising creator of the American Wind Symphony, commissioned a wide range of composers to write for the ensemble, and it is Boudreau who afforded Nelson his greatest opportunities in concert-music composition. (Boudreau also commissioned black composers J. J. Johnson, Ulysses Kay, T. J. Anderson, and Hale Smith, all of whom responded with substantial pieces.) Nelson's pieces for the Wind Symphony included a study in 5/4 which featured Dizzy Gillespie, a Concerto for Percussion, Complex City, and the Fugue and Bossa recorded here.

“The fugue is Contrapunctus 1 from Bach's 'Art of Fugue.' Nelson's sensitive scoring is for double reeds, flute, trumpet, horn, and organ, and includes some discrete doublings and octave couplings. The overall sonority is a new one for the much-played fugue. For a second movement, Nelson writes an original Bossa-Nova to which he adds Bach's 'Art of the Fugue' theme in inversion as a countermelody in lower woodwinds. If jazzing Bach had been done often by the time this was written in 1973, Nelson has nonetheless added both a thoughtful transcription and a fiery original piece to the genre. The jazz solos, improvised at the recording session, reflect Nelson's own practice when playing with Boudreau's Wind Symphony. Without any explicit indication on the score, he simply improvised over the form of the piece. The opening of the saxophone solo on this recording, with its reworkings of Nelson's theme, is especially effective.” [Ulysses Simpson Kay (1917-1995) and Hale Smith (1925-2009) are profiled at, which features comprehensive Works Lists by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma]

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