Oliver Nelson: Three Plus One


Three Plus One


Oliver Nelson (tenor sax)


Fantabulous (Verve 001079502)

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Oliver Nelson (tenor sax), Phil Woods (alto sax), Art Hoyle (trumpet),

Snooky Young (trumpet), Ray Wiegand, Tony Studd (trombones), Kenny Sonderblum (alto sax, flute), Bob Ashton (tenor sax, clarinet), Jerome Richardson (baritone sax, flute, alto flute), Patti Bown (piano), Ben Tucker (bass), Grady Tate (drums)


Composed and arranged by Oliver Nelson


Recorded: Chicago, March 19, 1964


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

It is interesting that Oliver Nelson did not choose an all-star lineup for this date, although his prestige by this time would certainly have allowed for it. Yet Nelson's peerless arrangements, compositions and orchestrations stand up so well as to make this group perform at a level that might not be expected. While Nelson certainly had some extremely talented players here, he also incorporated hired locals Art Hoyle on trumpet and Kenny Sonderblum on trombone, and even features Hoyle at times to great effect.

Leading off with a Grady Tate drum intro that clearly signals the driving rhythm ahead, this all-out burner is in the best tradition of big band swing. Nelson's impeccable command of orchestration is a marvel, particularly considering how much music he fits into this tune's scant 3 minutes. Unfazed by Nelson's penchant for complicated lines, the band cooks with impeccably unified playing. A sterling high-register solo by trumpeter Hoyle raises this screamer to full intensity. An exuberant Phil Woods then lets loose with one of his patented wailing solos. All the while, drummer Grady Tate bassist Ben Tucker steadfastly maintain the pace. Fittingly, as with any fine composer, Nelson completes his thought by ending the piece as it began: with a punctuated Tate solo fronting a perfectly unified finale by an impressive group of musicians. Big band swing at its finest.

Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello

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