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This was an important album for Oliver Nelson (1932-1975),
who wrote and arranged all of the six songs. After making a
number of records for the Prestige label, this was his first
Impulse! label release. “The Blues and the Abstract Truth”
also featured his wonderful playing on saxophone. In fact,
all of the players here are important Jazz names, recorded
in the early prime of their careers. The disc is a delight to hear!

As suggested by the title, all of these songs are treatments
of the Blues form, and Nelson’s accompanying liner notes
explain the layouts and rationale behind each track. The idiom
is in a solid “Post-Bop” vein, that doesn’t “push the boundaries”
too much.

In fact, it’s a nice companion piece to many of the records
Eric Dolphy released during the same period under the Prestige
label, both as a leader and sideman. Nelson and Dolphy share
many of the same musicians for these recordings, and Dolphy’s
unmistakable presence is evident in his high-flying solos as a
part of Nelson’s band. Freddie Hubbard is in top form here
too, and Bill Evans’ playing could be characterized as more
straight-ahead “Bop,” than his typical lyric, impressionistic
style. Although he never solos on this disc, George Barrow
on baritone saxophone adds to the full sound of the ensemble.

This album was a landmark in Nelson’s career as a
composer/arranger, and a harbinger of further projects. It’s too
bad that his career was so short. As I expected from the
digitally remastered CDs from Impulse!, the sound was great.

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