LET MUSIC LIVE, LIVE THE MUSIC!!!
LET MUSIC LIVE, LIVE THE MUSIC!!!
ANTHONY E. NELSON JR., – “SWINGING SUNSET” – Musicstand Records
Anthony E. Nelson, tenor saxophone/composer; Kyle Koehler, Hammond B3 organ; Cecil Brooks III, drums.
The smooth, illustrious sound of Anthony E. Nelson Jr.’s tenor saxophone is music to my ears. With this wonderful new album, he is bringing homage to some of the great jazz organ trios that were hugely popular in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. Nelson has a sound that’s warm and fluid. He reminds me of Gene Ammons, without the thick blues inflections. Ammons was one of my favorite jazz saxophonists back-in-the-day, so comparing Mr. Nelson to Ammons is a huge compliment.
“The organ was a big part of my church upbringing and a big part of the music education I received in the clubs in Harlem and New Jersey. I have also played on numerous organ trio gigs. For this album, I wanted to honor the cats who knew how to do an organ trio right. But I also wanted to pay homage to the great sax players that shaped my understanding of the music. I have great love for artists like Gene Ammons, Houston Person, Stanley Turrentine, and other sax giants without whom I wouldn’t be the musician I am today,” Anthony E. Nelson Jr. explains.
This is Nelson’s fifth CD release as a leader. Not only does he play a mean tenor saxophone, but the artist is also competent on flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet (although these instruments are not played during this album).
Nelson and his swinging trio open this project with a song made famous in the 1960s, on a Prestige album I owned by Gene Ammons titled, “Boss Tenor.” Nelson’s treatment of the song is smooth and liquid as olive oil. His tenor saxophone just slides through the chord changes. Neal Hefti’s “Girl Talk” is always a crowd pleaser, with Nelson giving it a very bluesy feel and inviting Kyle Koehler into the spotlight on his Hammond B3 organ. Koehler does not disappoint. He is a New York City first-call player and when Anthony E. Nelson Jr., and drummer Cecil Brooks III invited him to join them in the studio, he agreed. It was a situation where Cecil had come into town from the West Coast and looked up his former student, Nelson Jr. Cecil suggested they record while he was in town, and the rest is history. Nelson composed “Uno Mas Por Roberto” for his uncle Bob, who speaks fluent Spanish. Cecil brooks III shines on the drums during this arrangement, pumping energy into the piece that swings with a Latin persuasion. There is a variety of good music on this album. The trio sounds like they’ve been together forever, even though this was a happenstance recording. Anthony E. Nelson Jr. brings his A-game, soaking his tenor saxophone solos in deep gospel juices and exposing blues roots on tunes like “These Foolish Things.” I used to love to hear Joe Williams sing this old standard. A talented saxophonist, Nelson plays this music like he, himself, is singing the lyrics and to my ears, that makes him a super sensitive and emotional player.
May 2, 2023
Anthony E. Nelson, Jr.
The organ trio is ground zero in soul jazz. It is the greasiest, funkiest, and most readily accessible genre of jazz. One need not understand jazz at all to know what soul jazz is all about. New Jersey multi-instrumentalist Anthony Nelson, Jr. is a keeper of the flame who has previously released four albums all steeped in the hard bop vernacular. Here Nelson mixes things up with originals and standards ("Canadian Sunset" and "Girl Talk"). Nelson is a bright voice in an old field making it all new again.
Jazziz by Jonathan Widran
“Listeners needn’t follow specific religious doctrines to get caught up in the spirit of Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak… powerful…”
“Listeners needn’t follow specific religious doctrines to get caught up in the spirit of Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak, New York City-based tenor and soprano saxophonist Anthony E. Nelson’s powerful, Scripture-inspired set. Working with a core quartet of fellow Big Apple stalwarts – pianist Brandon McCune, bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Chris Beck – and joined by alto saxophonist Bruce Williams and trumpeter Josh Evans, Nelson fashions each arrangement and composition around a Bible verse.
Tunes such as the alto-driven, soulfully swinging title track; the bright, sonically adventurous “Peter’s First Step”; and the brisk and lively “I’ll Be a Fool,” are uplifting, whimsical and percussive, stretching to allow both Nelson and Evans to create praise conversations with their respective horns. Numbers such as “Those That Wait” and “Consider It All Joy,” the latter of which features one of Nelson’s most creative improvisations, are slightly more understated in their expression of joy. Still others, like the mournful, Coltrane-esque “Fully Come,” allow for more prayerful contemplation.
Nelson, a multi-instrumentalist who played clarinet in Regina Carter’s touring band and has also performed with T.S. Monk and Steve Turre, takes the proceedings to church, literally on the all-too-brief live gospel choir interludes that draw from Isaiah 40:31 and Psalm 150. Listeners needn’t look up those passages to fully appreciate their purpose here. But, no doubt, Nelson wishes they would.”
The Jazz Page/Raves by D. Glenn Daniels
“A fantastic musical statement… “
August 2, 2016
Swift To Hear, Slow To Speak by saxophonist Anthony E. Nelson Jr. is a fantastic artistic statement. The project is also an effort built around the artist’s faith and gratitude. Nelson, Jr. has a tone that is powerful and engaging, which accentuates the fine quality of his compositions. Each song on the project is based on particular scriptural biblical passages. The aesthetics and artistry of the work is not at all lost in the message. In addition to Nelson Jr. on tenor and soprano saxes, this production benefits from an outstanding lineup comprised of Brandon McCune on piano, Kenny Davis on bass, Chris Beck on drums, Bruce Williams on alto sax and Josh Evans on trumpet. This is a fantastic musical brew .
Jazz Mostly by Bruce Crowther
“The music is of today and for today, yet contains within it profound statements for those who choose to hear them… Anthony’s music continues to echo in the mind long after the first hearing.”
Anthony E. Nelson Jr Swift To Hear, Slow To Speak (Musicstand MSR 0005)
“A fine instrumentalist and composer, Anthony E. Nelson is well established on the New York scene. On this album, his fourth as leader, Anthony plays soprano and tenor saxophones on a selection of his own compositions, all contemporary in style and execution and delightfully melodic. There are also hidden depths, deriving from an important and distinguishing aspect of his writing. In all that he does, Anthony is strongly influenced by his faith; indeed, each work is inspired by passages in the Bible. Although this does not appear in an overt manner, in some of his compositions he holds up a reflective mirror to the gospel tradition. This form, which has appeared in jazz and other kindred musical genres over the years, is used by Anthony as a very subtle undercurrent beneath new styles and forms. Thus the music is of today and for today, yet contains within it profound statements for those who choose to hear them. Joining Anthony here are Josh Edwards, trumpet, Bruce Williams, alto saxophone, Brandon McCune, piano, Kenny Davis, bass, and Chris Beck, drums. Among the tracks are Never Too Late, which draws upon the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-44), Blessed Are Those That Mourn, a moving piece, Consider It All Joy, which fully lives up to its title, and Swift To Hear, Slow To Speak. This is used appropriately as the album title because Anthony’s music continues to echo in the mind long after the first hearing.”
May I introduce the uniquely talented Anthony E. Nelson, Jr. His "Swift To Hear, Slow To Speak" (Music Stand Records), just might be one of the best damn jazz CDs of the year. It's his fourth and best. Armed with exquisite New York City jazzmen like pianist Brandon McCune, bassist Kenny Davis, drummer Chris Beck, alto saxophonist Bruce Williams and trumpeter Josh Evans, this hotshot composer/arranger/multi-reed man can lead a band through paces usually reserved for the masters. He's a post-bopper par excellence but can feel the blues and the swing just as mightily. He calls his music gospel-jazz and, indeed, two of the tracks were actually recorded in church. (Each song title is from a different part of the Bible.) He has a smoky, late-night feel in his tenor sax not unlike that of John Coltrane. The New Jersey musician has been playing clarinet in Regina Carter's touring band but here he rules the roost.
July 8, 2016
Midwest Record by Chris Spector
“Tasty stuff that makes you want to just sit and listen, this is what the real deal sounds like. Hot stuff.”
ANTHONY E. NELSON JR/Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak: This post bop sax man may have religious overtones to his music and themes, but he’s a solid swinger and this is a solid New York jazzbo session that’s right in the pocket and right in the tradition. Since the tunes are mostly originals, we get a good feel for what he can do, and it’s all good. Tasty stuff that makes you want to just sit and listen, this is what the real deal sounds like. Hot stuff.
July 15, 2016
Musical Memoirs by Dee Dee McNeil
“Mr. Nelson has endeavored to inject hope into his music; hope and praise and peace… Anthony E. Nelson Jr is a musician, composer, arranger and most importantly, a man of significant spirituality and religious substance. I salute his numinous concepts and celebrate his creativity, channeled from the great beyond and offered to us like a gift or a rainbow.”
“If you have ever been in the throes of doing taxes or bookkeeping, you know how miserable and often stressful it can be. At least, it is for me. Numbers just aren’t my best friends and that kind of work drives me up the wall. I decided to put on some music while I was tediously entering numbers into my Excel program. I grabbed a new CD I had just received and WOW! Anthony E. Nelson Jr was just what I needed at that very moment. He made the work I actually hate doing a more pleasant experience. His original jazz music soothed my stress, be-bopping me into a pleasant mood. This is the type of jazz I love. Good music is so healing! Right from the title tune, I was captivated and entertained. The arrangement on “Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak” is clean and well-rehearsed with strong, harmonic horn lines that punch the melody out like a cookie cutter. Chris Beck took a stellar solo on drums and I was properly introduced to the composer by a group of excellent musicians including Nelson Jr on saxophones. He and Josh Evans on trumpet, along with Bruce Williams on alto sax, create a smooth blend of horns. This was my first time hearing the work of Anthony E. Nelson Jr., perhaps because he’s based on the East Coast, some 3000 miles away from Southern California. But I am now a definite fan. “Peter’s First Step” is another winning composition that whips me back to the late sixties when Art Blakey was swinging hard and Miles and Coltrane were breaking new ground. There is something comforting about Nelson’s compositions. Something spiritual and familiar. When I listen to this CD, I feel better. “Softly She Said” is a tale of two women, presented as an emotion ballad, soaked in blues, with Brandon McCune sounding amazing on piano and Kenny Davis rich and unobtrusive on bass, but solidly locking that groove down and making sure you know he’s there. Davis plays some very melodic bass lines, but never lets that blues-groove get away.
From the titles of these songs and the liner notes, I soon learn that Nelson brings strong Christian faith to his music. For example, the tune I mentioned above and one that I like very much, “Peter’s First Step” is a composition based on Matthew 16:13 – 19.
Nelson explains, “It’s really about what God does when we pray and listen first.”
Mr. Nelson has endeavored to inject hope into his music; hope and praise and peace. That’s what I got from it. New Jersey native, Anthony E. Nelson Jr is a musician, composer, arranger and most importantly, a man of significant spirituality and religious substance. I salute his numinous concepts and celebrate his creativity, channeled from the great beyond and offered to us like a gift or a rainbow.”
Jazz Music Archive
If you are looking for that no-nonsense hard bop sound, then you have come to the right place. On “Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak”, Anthony E. Nelson Jr and his crew of five side men deliver ten original jazz tunes played with imagination and a lot of soul. Most would categorize this in the hard bop file, but this is hard bop of the more abstract style along the lines of latter day Art Blakey, or early Herbie Hancock. The Hancock comparison is furthered by pianist Brandon McClure, whose mixture of sophisticated blues and impressionism definitely recalls the young Herbie. Nelson’s main influence would seem to be Coltrane, as his sound is reminiscent, and he is also apt to pepper his solos with Coltrane quotes, along with re-arranged quotes from others as well. Being the top soloists on board, Nelson and McClure handle the lion’s share of the solos, but some tunes allow the others a ride as well.
With three horns on board, Nelson is able to add interest to his opening melodies by arranging in a mini-big band style. Tracks like, “Never too Late”, allow the horns to engage in some contrapuntal intersecting lines, while “Blessed are Those that Mourn”, uses the horns to paint pastel colors ala Herbie’s “Speak like a Child” album. Possibly the biggest plus on here is the fact that all of this music is original, and many of the tunes measure up well against better known standards. Any musician looking for a possible ‘new standard’ on this CD should check out “I’ll be a Fool”, which sports an infectious be-bop like melody that is hard to get out of your head.
A quick glance at the song titles will tell you that Nelson is heavily influenced by his Christian faith and seeks to use his music to worship God. Anthony calls his music “gospel jazz”, and although almost all hard bop has a bit of gospel to it, the only overt gospel number on here is closing ballad, “More than Rubies”. Anyone who does not want their jazz watered down with artificial sweetener, or passing trends, will want to check out “Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak”, not only can these guys play, but they can also compose and arrange with the best of them.