Oliver Nelson (Oliver Edward Nelson)
BiographySt. Louis, Missouri, USA
Oliver Nelson began playing piano at age six and picked up the saxophone when he was eleven. Later he continued his musical education at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as studying with composer Elliott Carter. Nelson gained practical experience by playing in bands with Erskine Hawkins, Louie Bellson, Quincy Jones and Duke Ellington. In the late 1950s he began recording with his own ensemble and earned attention as a promising jazz artist with the release of LPs like "The Blues and the Abstract Truth" (1961). Read more... Nelson contributed to, since it's common for arrangers and orchestrators to work without credit in Hollywood. One of his better-known efforts is the score for Alfie (1966), where he collaborated with sax man Sonny Rollins. Nelson's arrangements provide a buoyant, swinging backdrop for Rollins' assured playing. However, he is also sensitive to the film's quieter moments. The breadth of Nelson's ability as an arranger/orchestrator is demonstrated by his contribution to Ultimo tango a Parigi (1972). In his work with Gato Barbieri on this film, Nelson moves from the melancholy ruminations of the opening cue to the brittle elegance of the tango to the driving sound of a large ensemble. The score for Zig Zag (1970) is an example of Nelson's work as a composer. In this soundtrack he creates tension by combining dense harmonies and aggressive percussion. It has been suggested that Nelson's hectic schedule, which included work as composer, arranger, performer and teacher, may have helped to bring about his early death. He suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 43.