Anthony E. Nelson Jr.:
"Tenor for Two”/MUSICSTAND RECORDS
Liner Notes by Sheila Elaine Anderson: author, radio personality, WBGO, 88.3FM
Upon hearing the first few notes of “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”, Anthony Nelson’s second CD, “Tenor for Two”, you know that it is going to be a wonderful recording. Following the legacy of some greats such as Stanley Turrentine, Gene Ammons, and Houston Person, Nelson’s sound is distinctive, developed, pure and soulful. At his age of thirty-three this is a real achievement. Though he plays other saxophones, when asked, why he chose to play tenor only he explained, “tenor saxophone is my main instrument, the one I feel the most comfortable with.”
Indeed he is very much in his element this time around. Surrounded by an outstanding supportive and sensitive rhythm section of Oscar Perez-piano, Matthew Parrish-bass, Cecil Brooks III-drums, Nelson shines. Not only are they some of his closest friends, but he has worked with them in various capacities for several years. In high school he was introduced to Cecil Brooks, he worked with Matthew Parrish (Houston Person’s bassist) when they were members of the Regina Carter Quintet & Sextet. Both Cecil and Matthew played on his first cd, “Testament: Live At Cecil's,” for the past three years Oscar Perez has been working together in various groupings. Having had so much working experience contributes to the obvious synergy between them. Nelson says, “all of us have been on the bandstand with other groups and scenarios so we kind of have a sense of where each other is coming from.”
Of the eleven tunes on “Tenor for Two” six are familiar standards such as Don’t go to Strangers and The Very Thought of You with five original songs that highlights Nelson’s writing ability. A student of composition Nelson took heed the words of his mentor, DC trombonist and arranger, Calvin Jones, who stressed that a melody that could not be sung would not last the test of time and that if one does not provide the melody with the right support (harmony), then the melody would not have a true impact. Two songs, Miss Lady and Good for the Heart are examples. The two duo selections, Silly (he and Oscar Perez) and Lullaby of the leaves (with Matthew Parrish) add a nice touch. The ballad selections demonstrate Nelson’s maturity that seems beyond his years and confirms the Coleman Hawkins quote “You can separate the men from the boys and ballads.”
It is so refreshing to listen to a new release that takes me back to the time when Jazz was fun, easy to listen to, danceable and it told a story. Anthony Nelson represents much of what is positive about the future of this music called Jazz as he does not regurgitate but reinvigorates the sounds that create a real groove. I promise you that “Two For Tenor” will touch your heart, uplift your spirit and make you want to tap your feet!!