Review: By Light from Nelson Rangell

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.

By Light cover

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.

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