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Oliver Nelson had recorded several sessions for Prestige when the fledgling Impulse! label gave him the opportunity to make this septet date in 1961. The result was a rare marriage between an arranger-composer's conception and the ideal collection of musicians to execute it. The material is all based somehow on the blues, but Nelson's structural and harmonic extensions make it highly varied, suggesting ballads, hoedowns, and swing. The band is one of those groupings that seem only to have been possible around 1960, a roster so strong that the leader's name was actually listed fourth on the cover. Nelson shares the solo space with trumpeterFreddie Hubbard, alto saxophonist and flutistEric Dolphy, and pianistBill Evans, while bassistPaul Chambersand drummerRoy Haynescontribute support and baritone saxophonist George Barrow adds depth. In stark contrast to Dolphy's brilliant, convulsive explosions, Nelson's tenor solos are intriguingly minimalist, emphasizing a tight vibrato and unusual note choices. It's not quiteKind of Blue(nothing is), butBlues and the Abstract Truthis an essential recording, one that helped define the shape of jazz in the '60s. --Stuart Broomer
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Label:  Grp Records
ArtistOliver Nelson
Release Date:  August 15, 1995
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review by . July 18, 2004
posted in Music Matters
This is a classic. This is one of those rare supergroup types of gatherings that lives up to the hype. Although these three Oliver Nelson albums don't have the exact same personnel, I consider them all sisters, and classics. This one (Blues and the Abstract Truth), Screamin' the Blues, and Straight Ahead. All three of these are essential, in my opinion. Yes Abstract is the one that gets more press, but if you haven't heard Screamin' and Straight Ahead, you are missing some excellent music. Stolen …
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