In 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”.


The Players: Benjamin 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, © 2004


The 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.


“Prospect 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.


Josh 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.


In 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.


Drummer 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. 


“Early 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.


Josh 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.


At 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 each note.


Discovering 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”.  




q       Visit Josh Nelson’s site here:

q       Listen too and purchase his music at this location: