Friday, February 26, 2016

Jazz CD review: Missing // Jazz With Meaning, by Dave Nelson

Dave Nelson
Missing // Jazz with Meaning
I first became aware of Dave as a trumpeter with the Oral Fuentes Band, and soon found out that he is also a top-notch jazz man in his own right, not singularly playing reggae; the man simply loves to play, which you can easily tell seeing him perform. This collection is all original jazz pieces that feature Dave leading a top-of-the-line five-piece ensemble. Each number has its own feel, and this is the real deal, not the “lite jazz” that is too popular.  

Although presently a native of Saskatoon and originating from Washington State, Dave recorded this at Brooklyn’s Systems Two studio.  Many of the songs have some relationship to either youngsters or a theme of seeking, as it is dedicated to families of missing children (, and part of the purchase price goes to that goal.

Dave Nelson; pic by RBF
The opening number, “Blues for Katie,” is lively in classic Miles style bop that is a bit a-melodic, and yet follows a defined path that will have your head bouncing to the rhythm.  “Missing” is more 1950s noir, which could easily be the background to a Mike Hammer film, with visions of rain-drenched asphalt and windshield wipers keeping rhythm.  On the other hand, there is also a quiet joy with a touch of dissonance (i.e., sharp notes) about “Found,” the following piece. “I Live in Mexico” is a lighter mood opus with a “South of the Border” Latin-style jazz motif. “Take a Deep Breath” seemingly is not named to say “calm down,” but rather an instruction to be able to play the piece. He plays the horn straight for many bars, sometimes in a staccato style. It’s a really nice number, and quite energetic with a classic big band feel.

“Let the Children Dance” has a ‘50s or ‘60s theme, bringing to mind the kind of tune that would play while someone like Bob Hope came into a room, or a Doc Severinsen tune.  “Keep on Searching…” (do you see the theme of the titles here?) is lovely and upbeat, relying as much on all the instrumentalists (Jon Davis, Ian Froman, Javon Jackson, Gianluca Renzi)who each have solos, as much as Dave’s horn. The last one, “Father Time,” is in a similar vein, as with most of the music here, upbeat and, well, jazzy.

Most of the pieces are over 6-1/2 minutes on average, but the songs and musicians hold up throughout. Very worthwhile.

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