the past few years I’ve begin to envelope the artistry that jazz
pianist encompass, yeah I was a little hasty maybe too macho to
appreciate the mastery offered by a plethora of jazz pianist that are
merely a few keystrokes way. Now, I must redeem myself by introducing
you to a fresh voice pianist Josh Nelson and his impeccable new
release titled “Anticipation” his latest on Steel Bird Music.
Josh’s compositions are lyrically poise with an abundance of
substance; he maneuvers graciously with precision across the keys
without the sizzle and redundant passages that’s often heard in a
lot of today’s music. Therefore, he brings much needed warmth and
simplicity to each composition that’s born on “Anticipation”.
Campbell ~ Bass, Matt Slocum ~ Drums, Steve Cotter ~ Guitar (tracks 2
& 4), Sara Gazarek ~ Vocals (track 4), Ludvig Girdland ~ Violin
(track 4), Dayna Stephens ~ Tenor Saxophone (tracks 6 & 8) and
featured artist Josh Nelson ~ Piano and Fender Rhodes (track 4).
Produced by Josh Nelson for Steel Bird Music,
first few notes establishes a template set by pianist Josh Nelson
early on with a track titled “Requited”, this is a snapshot
what’s about come throughout “Anticipation”. Josh’s soloing
here on the opening track is soft with emphasis soon to be placed on
the trio setting that slowly adapts to an bright & uplifting swing
mode with his more then sufficient sidekicks Campbell and Slocum. The
door of communication remains instinctively open here as each musician
exchanges their solos; now the fruits of labor have paid off with
great dividends as the trio speaks with tonal gratification.
Bay” invites you on a voyage of inspiring melodies by Nelson’s
travels too Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. In a quartet setting Steve
Cotter stirs up a splash jazz guitar, bassist Campbell joins in with a
terrific solo with bow in hand adds just the right touch.
Subsequently, Josh comes aboard delivering a gorgeous and very
appetizing taste of his piano magic.
continues to amiably navigate the piano without delving into barrios
of chaos, he confidently mirrors the fingerprints of jazzmaster Bill
Evans with modest dose of improvisation on the title track
“Anticipation”. On the upswing Josh and his cohorts adds yet
another twist of inspiring jazz to this palate of tasty music.
the 4th spot in rotation on “Anticipation” is a tribute
to jazz pianist Herbie Hancock titled “Man With Dreams”. According
to the liner notes (written by Peter Erskine) this composition is in
response to Hancock’s “I Have A Dream” from his 1969 album
titled The Prisoner. Vocalist - Sara Gazarek, bassist - Benjamin
Campbell, guitarist - Steve Cotter and drummer - Matt Slocum, joins
Nelson as he works the Rhodes piano on this lavish samba arrangement
that was scored and dedicated to Hancock.
Matt Slocum gets busy at the beginning of “Brazen Hussy”. What’s
amazing is how these young cats interpret the language of jazz with
such indelible pursuit without losing focus; these guys have the
rapport of musicians many years their senior.
Departures” is another dedication; this time to a host of folks
(John Prince, John Guerin, and his aunt Suwanee Malm) that obviously
holds deep sentimental value in the heart of Josh Nelson. Saxophonist
Dayna Stephans in particular adds sublime level of consciousness to
Nelson’s compositions. For those of you that have appreciation for
the undiluted tonality, you’ve found it here with Dayna Stephans.
describes the next tune as intense “butt kickin” well not exactly
those words. Yes, “Emergence”(a title from a previous album) is
indeed an infectious tune, it grooves with swing and rest assured my
fellow jazz lovers these young men can play! They embrace their
instruments with enthusiasm using them as a vessel to speak with
content that’s attractive in quality not quantity.
the 8th spot is a dedication that expresses matters of the
heart with his love interest in mind (Josh’s wife Kathy) titled
“Most Beautiful”. Nelson
calls sax-man Stephans back for another session this time to add
texture and intimacy to this arrangement contributing his warm and
sensitive voice that sketches colorful tones onto this tapestry of
love. “Brave World” wraps up this remarkable session featuring
Josh Nelson working the keys as he expresses the joys and simplicity
of these adoring melodies and harmonies that soulfully unfolds with
the original music by any artist brings sheer joy to my listening
space and Josh Nelson’s “Anticipation” has certainly been a
pleasurable listening experience. His accolades far exceed the norm
for any 26-plus years old regardless of profession. Consider this,
he’s scored compositions for “The Division” on Lifetime (TV),
“Lucky” on FX and “First Daughter” a Forrest Whittaker film,
apparently this youngster is making some serious noise on the West
Coast. Before I go, I must convey my appreciation to players on this
project for stepping up their game to assist Josh Nelson in his quest
too fulfill has dream called “Anticipation”.