I’m incredibly excited to invite you to share an evening with the Saxquest Jazz Orchestra for a celebration of the music of St. Louis native, Oliver Nelson on April 19 and 20 at Jazz at the Bistro. Two Nights – Two Sets each: 7:30PM and 9PM. This is our debut performance on this stage and we would love for you to be a part of it.
A passionate believer in “The Rights of All”, Oliver Nelson’s music is provocative and powerful. Intensely original, his music encompasses some of the most beautiful melodies, lush harmonies and intense groves ever written. His ability to infuse gospel blues, symphonic orchestrations and straight ahead jazz is nothing short of remarkable. Getting inside of Nelson’s music while arranging it for our instrumentation (jazz nonet) has been both humbling and musically rewarding. Sometimes his music hangs on a single note where the instrumental parts are so exposed it forces you to sit on the edge of your seat while other times his music is driving in a frenzy of mixed meter, poly-rhythmic excitement.
We’ll be performing several pieces from various times in Oliver Nelson’s career. As an ardent supporter of civil rights, Nelson’s compositions were inspired by the changing times of the 60’s, as he witnessed it. We’ll perform his composition “I Hope In Time a Change Will Come”, quite possibly the most beautiful heart-rendering melody Nelson ever wrote, which will feature Ben Reece on soprano saxophone. We’ll also throw down on “Emancipation Blues” which is a grand and glorious gospel romp that shows Nelson at his spiritual best! You’ll also hear several tunes from Nelson’s groundbreaking 1961 Impulse! album “The Blues and the Abstract Truth”, widely regarded as one of the most significant recordings of the modern jazz era.
I won’t give away the entire program but we will conclude the evening with a special performance of the entire “The Kennedy Dream Suite”. This is one of Nelson’s most ambitious works. In the reed section you’ll hear clarinets, flutes, oboe, English horn, and saxophones. In the brass section you’ll hear colors from different instruments with all kinds of mutes. Composed of eight movements, each piece incorporates an audio/visual of The 34th President’s oratorios on human rights as a prelude. With certain movements titled “The Rights of All”, “Tolerance”, “Genuine Peace”, and “The Artists’ Rightful Place”, its shocking just how relevant this music still is decades later. I believe this will be the St. Louis premiere of the Kennedy Dream Suite”. Its an honor to finally bring it back home to St. Louis and what grander of a stage than Jazz at the Bistro.
I hope you can join us for this very special evening. I would love to share with you our take on the music of Oliver Nelson.
Ben Reece – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet
Mark Overton- tenor saxophone, oboe, English horn
Derick Tramel – bari sax, bass clarinet, clarinet, flute
Bill Simpson – trumpet, flugelhorn
Dustin Shrum – trumpet, flugelhorn
Jon Siddle – trombone
Adam Maness – piano
Ben Wheeler – bass
Tony Barbata – percusion