Alva Nelson | Soul Eyes

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Soul Eyes

by Alva Nelson

a combination of originals and standards highlighting creative piano improvisation
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Synonymous Dichotomy
6:12 $0.99
2. Soul Eyes
4:56 $0.99
3. Gemini Baby
7:24 $0.99
4. Sanctified Blues
4:57 $0.99
5. Body and Soul
5:39 $0.99
6. Sweetcake
7:57 $0.99
7. Some Other Time
6:41 $0.99
8. A La Jarrett
6:11 $0.99
9. Song For Keisha
7:31 $0.99
10. Buster's Bounce
5:57 $0.99
11. 'Round Midnight
5:57 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

Kilosi Keys Music is announcing the debut CD release of Soul Eyes by New York Pianist/Composer Alva Nelson. Soul Eyes is a collection of jazz standards and original compositions presented in a virtuosic display of melodic & harmonic creativity with dazzling improvisation, in solo, duo, trio & quartet forms. Alva was twice awarded first place by the Composers’ Guild for his jazz compositions “Tranquil Jubilation”, and “Synonymous Dichotomy” (the first cut on “Soul Eyes”). The son of a Texas Pentecostal minister, Nelson was an integral part of the now legendary 70’s Kashmere Stage Band of Houston. This high school band, led by Conrad O. Johnson was crowned “Best High School Jazz Band” in the nation in 1972. The Band made many stellar recordings in the 1970’s, that many industry pundits thought were professional efforts. Those recordings can now be found on and other Internet sites. Alva was educated at Sam Houston State & Texas Southern Universities; where he was a successful student/musician, winning many awards for his musicianship at the Wichita Jazz Festival & the Notre Dame Intercollegiate Jazz Festival. He has received two Travel/Study Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, two Summer Jazz Camp Scholarships from the National Association of Jazz Educators, and a semi-finalist appearance in the Thelonious International Jazz Piano Competition. Alva Nelson also has been the recipient of several Meet-the-Composer grants, one of which supported the premier of “Afrykhan Sweet”, a multi-disciplinary piece, incorporating American Jazz & West African Dance forms. It was performed at the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival. Alva has appeared at the Montreux (Switzerland) and North Sea (Den Hag, Netherlands) Jazz Festivals, & has performed in over 20 countries on four continents. In 2005, Alva Nelson contributed to the PBS Documentary film, “Comfortably Numb”, by scoring the closing theme. His work as musical director in the theater world includes “Ain’t Misbehavin’, “Sam Cooke, Forever Mr. Soul”, “…Love, Langston, & “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”. Mr. Nelson has appeared on recordings with Lonnie Plaxico, Robin Eubanks, Juanita Fleming, and Charley Gerard; and has performed with Kirk Whalum, Arnett Cobb, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Odetta, Regina Belle, Phyllis Hyman, & the Boys’ Choir of Harlem.

Alva Nelson’s music has the traditional elements of a jazz recording; long developed & pretty melodies, sophisticated harmonies, strong aggressive complicated rhythms. However, his original compositions are quite distinctive. The first cut “Synonymous Dichotomy is most definitely influenced by the McCoy Tyner School. This track is highlighted by Cecil Brooks III drum solo. Four of the solo pieces; “Soul Eyes”, “Body & Soul”, “Some Other Time”, & “‘Round Midnight”, all remind you of the likes of Ahmad Jamal, Errol Garner & perhaps Bill Evans. “Body & Soul” is especially virtuosic. “Sanctified Blues” is most definitely influenced by Ray Bryant. A la Jarrett is a tribute to Keith Jarrett, although, it has its’ own Nelson identity. Once again, Brooks drumming shines. A perfect example of the beauty of simplicity is the melody of Gemini Baby. It has a nice Brazilian undertone & it almost could be mistaken for a prime time TV commercial. Nice bass solo by Harry Anderson. Sweetcake is Nelsons’ dedication to his mother & you can feel the African beat in his playing here. If ever there was a love song, there is “Song for Keisha”. Nelson was a fairly accomplished saxophone player as a youth and “Buster’s Bounce” has its compositional roots in Bird’s Billie’s Bounce”. Bud Powell comes to mind here. The final cut on this eleven track album is the perennial “’Round Midnight”. Monk’s style is not exhibited here, but a somewhat “classical” approach rounds out a really wonderful listening experience. Add this to your jazz collection………….now.

CD Reviews: CD Review: Alva Nelson, “Soul Eyes”
Posted by: editor on Friday, September 11, 2009 - 08:47 AM
Reviews By: Edward Blanco

New York-based pianist and composer Alva Nelson has served as a sideman, producer, and musical director in theater and scored music for public television documentaries. Now, after several recording sessions between 1993 and 1997, this Texas-born son of a Pentecostal minister, has finally kept the faith and releases this long-awaited debut “Soul Eyes,” a self published eleven-track CD blending sparkling originals and four covers in a gem of a recording that deserves serious consideration. Beginning with the opening “Synonymous Dichotomy” original, Nelson's muscular piano chords sets the stage for this album. This fast-paced tune comes out swinging featuring hard piano lines, strong bass work from Chris White and a lively percussive background with Cecil Brooks III splashing the cymbals and pounding the drums as Larry Washington lends a touch on percussions.

In contrast to the bouncy starter, Nelson slows it down on Mal Waldron’s title piece “Soul Eyes,” a beautiful ballad he performs solo. On “Gemini Baby” Nelson showcases not only his knack for composing but his enormous talents on the keys playing seven-minute s of light jazz on a beautiful and melodic number. The Edward Heyman/John Green classic “Body and Soul,” the favorite of saxophone players, is provided delicate treatment from Nelson as he runs his fingers all over the keys in another magical solo performance. The other timeless standard that the pianist treats with warmth is the Leonard Bernstein tune, “Some Other Time.” The last cover included here is Thelonious Monk's signature chart “Round Midnight,” also given a cushy feel with Nelson's respectful solo performance.

Other note worthy originals include “Song for Keisha,” “Buster's Bounce” and “a La Jarrett” which starts out slowly with a crisp Nelson introduction then changes direction turning into a furious barn burner of a tune reminiscent of a Keith Jarrett performance and saving some of his best chops on the piano. A single sampling of “Soul Eyes” is more than enough to convince the discerning jazz audience and aficionado alike that Alva Nelson is a pianist well worth waiting for and “Soul Eyes,” well worth a listen and repeated spins, highly recommended.

Year: 2009
Label: Kilosi Keys Music
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