This release from 1961 could easily be entitled 'Blues in modern garb'. Oliver Nelson may perhaps not have been aiming at abstract truth in his compositions, but outstanding solos are certainly found in all six themes – each of them specially composed and arranged by him for this session.
His five low-budget releases for Prestige had caused something of a sensation on the music scene and in particular the participation of the modernist Eric Dolphy gave an amazing boost to the group’s sound. The Impulse production profited from being allotted more time and certainly more money. Thanks to this it was possible to ‘borrow’ Freddie Hubbard and Bill Evans for a short term. And so it was that this milestone in jazz history came about. Teachers in music schools all over the world still present these exemplary cornerstones of jazz music to their pupils in jazz arrangement classes. Nowhere can one better study keys and forms: C minor, rarely heard tonal centres, forms with 44 or 56 bars – these are all things to capture a student’s attention.
For the normal listener, however, the escapades of Eric Dolphy in his solos, the sensitive music-making of the rhythm group, and the audible group sound are of more importance when coming across this rarity in the record store. And whoever hesitates to part with his money when he has this mega-rare so-called ‘photo cover’ in his hands is a hopeless case. Don’t deliberate on buying this album too long. You may have to wait another 40 years before a further re-release comes on the market and there is certainly no guarantee that it will sound as good as this one!