My initial impression after listening to By Light, the latest recording by multi-instrumentalist Nelson Rangell is one word: STRONG! Multiple listens since have only confirmed that.
His sound on alto sax and flute is as strong as it always has been, which is saying a lot. I’ve always considered him a powerhouse on sax and agile and nimble as anyone on piccolo.
His compositions are strong on By Light. I don’t have credits (a huge disappointment/disadvantage of digital music) so I don’t know if Nelson wrote all of them. There is a cover of “Human Nature.” Some highlights include the opening pure pop-jazz gem “Streamline” which is immediately followed up with one of my favorite tracks, the long burning “Tidal Wave.” In the same vein is “Old School,” which is also a classic pop-jazz piece that could have fit on his albums from 20 years ago.
He brings out strong emotion on the tender ballad “Letting Go.” Grab a box of tissues as you remember someone you’ve lost. There’s the soaring “Ali’s Moon” written for his wife.
I’m telling you – this guy practices every day and hasn’t lost a single step from the first album I fell in love with his sound (1993’s Truest Heart). By Light reminds me of why I started enjoying contemporary jazz in the first place. Thanks, Nelson Rangell.
To learn more about this recording, I recommend you check out the world premiere interview with Sandy Shore on SmoothJazz.com Global Radio. Nelson talks about the album’s title, which instrument he prefers, the tracks on By Light, and more.
While looking back 25 years at his Restless recording, it’s a great time to see what the legendary Bob James is doing this year. A look at his website shows him touring in support of last year’s Expresso recording. Expresso was the first Bob James solo recording in over a decade. It’s a trio record with bassist Michael Palazzolo and drummer Billy Kilson.
“I wanted to do this as part of a trio — piano, bass and drums, With Fourplay and in other larger settings, I loved that I could solo and then kind of disappear into the setting to accompany other soloists. To play in a trio requires a different level of commitment, with the piano being much more prominent. You need perhaps a greater degree of optimism and bravery. That was how I felt when I first got into music. Espresso is my attempt to recapture that.”
While there are several notable things about the release, fans of the earlier days of contemporary jazz will enjoy James’ sequel to his classic track “Nautilus.” Called “Submarine,” the connection to the original is immediately noticeable. Grover Washington, Jr.’s “Mister Magic” is also covered.