This is my first blog. I feel very blessed to be able to make a living playing saxophone and flute and I’ve always particularly enjoyed the interaction that takes place with different audiences in a club or concert venue through the music. It’s been one of the most important things in my life really. Communicating and sharing with others has always mattered a great deal to me. Communication between people has changed a lot, and very quickly. Maybe that is partly why being a performing musician in the interactive, nuanced field of jazz has been so special for me all my life. It’s a most wonderful thing when there’s an understanding and empathy shared between a performer, the other musicians, and the audience during a performance. I think we all want to feel connection. We’re affirmed by the experience. It’s a little ironic that the internet with all its possibilities and convenience has always seemed foreign to me where communicating with others is concerned. I can’t entirely explain it. Maybe I’m just a relic with a flip phone. I’ll try to approach these little blog communications in a similar spirit that I would want to share with an audience on any given day playing somewhere. “The room” feels unfamiliar and a lot bigger. There is a first time for everything though.
I have two new recordings that have just been released. In their way maybe they’re both a little old school. They’re titled “Red” and “Blue”. “Red” is a contemporary, commercial jazz CD with me playing sax. The tunes are all originals except for one. “Blue” is a pretty diverse collection of music I’ve recorded on flute and piccolo. I hope the pieces on it are accessible to a broad audience and therefore commercial, but I didn’t work within any preconceived notions about what the music to be recorded was or wasn’t. I was inspired by it all. On both CDs the music was true to how I heard my voice on those instruments. The compositions on “Blue” are all tunes I love that I think have really interesting and beautiful arrangements. There’s everything from the music of Stevie Wonder to Maurice Ravel being covered on it. It was very important to me, after many previous CDs where the flute occupied only one or two tracks on the disc, to finally give the instrument a more full ride. “Blue” is further special to me because of Bob James’ participation. Bob lent his mastery to four very different tunes and played brilliantly on each. “Red” is in the image of many of the types of horn CDs that I grew up listening to and being inspired by. Artists like David Sanborn, Michael and Randy Brecker, Tom Scott, Ernie Watts, Eddie Daniels and Grover Washington to name a very few, were all contemporary jazz giants whose new releases I couldn’t wait to get my hands on as a young musician. Their recordings, and definitely the players, remain some of my absolute favorites to this day. I always looked for any recordings they participated on. While these were all artists who were involving themselves in commercial efforts, they were all consummate players and total musicians. Something that I valued in particular in the commercial jazz efforts being recorded by these artists and many others like Bob James, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Hubert Laws and Freddie Hubbard was not only how individual their sound and musical output was, but how much value was being put on the jazz element of improvisation within the contemporary and, yes, commercial tunes they were often playing over. This is something I hope my efforts with both “Red” and “Blue” will reflect. I’m amazed that I’ve been lucky enough to have made 17 CDs over the years. These two are very important to me. I’ve been as invested in them as any recordings I’ve ever made. I don’t think they are radically different than anything I’ve done before but I do feel they are both, in their different ways, fully committed recordings. I felt as excited about making them as I did for any of my first CDs. I “own” them honestly as much as anything I’ve ever done. The unique thing about this new offering is that there are two CDs being released at the same time, each featuring me on different instruments and including an eclectic mix of musical styles. There were few constraints. I’ve followed my belief that if I did music I considered expressive and beautiful it would find an audience. Every tune meant a lot to me, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy playing for you.
Note: “Red” and “Blue” were released February 1st and they have done well so far despite the fact that in choosing to release them as an independent, without a label, there have been some real challenges. Nothing like learning on the job I guess. I think things are coming together much better now and the CDs will begin to be in good, consistent physical stock at Amazon within the next couple of weeks. It’s been frustrating for sure but please hang in there with me. Of course, the CDs and individual tunes are immediately, readily available digitally at iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby sites without any problem. I will take this opportunity to direct you to CD Baby (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/nelsonrangell for “Red” or http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/nelsonrangell2 for “Blue”) for the easiest and most direct purchase of the physical CD. I hugely appreciate your support and I think you will enjoy these recordings a lot. Thanks very much everyone.