"First Stories" was Josh Nelson's first solo record, recorded when he was just 19! This band played together through the end of high school and the first couple years of college (1995-1999). You can definitely see a change in Josh's playing and compositio since then!
A native of Southern California, Josh maintains a busy schedule as a jazz pianist, composer, and recording artist. At age 29, he has begun to make his mark on the jazz and songwriting scene. Josh has performed with some of the most respected names in jazz, including Seamus Blake, Ralph Moore, Anthony Wilson, Tony Dumas, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Ernie Watts, Tom Scott Jack Sheldon, Peter Erskine, Bob Hurst, Rhiannon, and Sara Gazarek to name a few. Josh was a semi-finalist in the 2006 Thelonious Monk Jazz Piano Competition.
Josh produced his debut album at age 19 (First Stories, 1998) independently under his own production company Steel Bird Music. Writer Mac Macdonald said the album displayed "solid, confident musicianship....with an innate sense of swing and rhythm." Josh's other endeavors include The Leadwell Project (2002), and Emergence (2001), both EP-length projects which demonstrate his versatility as a pianist and composer and also showcase the talent of Los Angeles' up-and-coming jazz musicians. With the release of Anticipation (2004), Josh continued to focus on his original music. Josh is currently writing music for a new studio album for the Native Language Music label, due out in Spring 2007. It will feature Seamus Blake (sax), Darek Oles (bass), Matt Wilson (drums), Anthony Wilson (guitar), and Sara Gazarek (vocals). The best peple in the biz!
Josh received his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Long Beach State University. While there he was privileged to study with jazz pianist Cecilia Coleman, as well as with Buddy Collette and John Prince. While at the Berklee College of Music he studied with Neil Olmstead, Tiger Okoshi, and Kim Steiner. Other mentors include John Clayton, Bill Cunliffe, Alan Pasqua, Putter Smith, and Benny Green. Josh is the recipient of countless honors, awards, and scholarships. In his high school years, he received the Louis Armstrong Award, the John Phillip Sousa Award, as well as numerous "Outstanding Soloist Awards" at music competitions from around the country. Most recently, he received the $10,000 Tom Talbert Scholarship. Josh has also been a member of many honor groups, including the SCSBOA Honor Jazz Band, the SCSBOA All-Stars, and the Grammy Band.
In addition to his jazz endeavors, Josh continues to pursue his interest in other areas of music. He has toured Taiwan twice performing and arranging film scores with the Hollywood Pops Orchestra and the Ars Nova Chamber Ensemble. He has performed with film composer Michael Kamen, Monty Python co-founder Eric Idle, and actors Jon Lovitz, and Clint Eastwood. Compositions and performances of his regularly appear on the television show "The Division" (Lifetime), "Lucky” (FX), “Jack and Bobby” (WB), and the Forrest Whittaker movie “First Daughter” (Paramount). His time is also spent maintaining a private studio of jazz students, teaching for the Thelonious Monk Institute After School Jazz Program, and as a guest lecturer for the UCLA Jazz Combo Program.
Josh keeps a busy performance and recording schedule in Southern California and around the U.S., Europe, and Asia. He performs regularly with his own Trio and Quintet, the Sara Gazarek Band, the Jack Sheldon California Cool Quartet and Big Band, the Cross/Hart Jazz Experience, and the Jennifer Leitham Trio. Josh also arranges and composes music for vocalists Sara Gazarek, Annie Sellick, Rhiannon, Natasha Miller, and Susan Sinner.
As drummer Peter Erskine said: “Josh is that rare young musician who has not only a wealth of study and experience under his belt (all but assuring him a prominent place in jazz music), but he also possesses those rarest of musical attributes: a touch, a tone, and a “sound” that are all identifiably his own.”