Oliver Nelson Day

June 4, 1932 – October 28, 1975


Black, Brown and Beautiful

Saxophonist, clarinetist, arranger, composer and bandleader Oliver Edward Nelson was born on June 4, 1932 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Hearing music by Ravel and Hindesmith while stationed in Japan with the Marines inspired him to become a composer.

After completing his Master’s degree in music theory and composition he worked as the house arranger at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

His big breakthrough was the album “The Blues and the Abstract Truth”

In addition to his own projects he wrote arrangements for Hollywood and a wide array of jazz musicians including Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins, Wes Montgomery and many other jazz giants.

After playing in territory bands around Saint Louis beginning in 1947 he worked briefly as the alto saxophone and arranger for the Louis Jordan band in 1950 and ’51.

Nelson moved to New York, where he found steady work as the house arranger for the Apollo Theater and performed with Erskine Hawkins and Wild Bill Davis.

Following his release of six albums as a leader, Nelson’s breakthrough came with 1961’s “The Blues and the Abstract Truth” featuring the tune “Stolen Moments” which is now considered a standard.

Oliver Nelson later moved to Los Angles, and help Gato Barbieri arrange music for the 1972 film “Last Tango in Paris.”


Oliver Nelson, alto sax
Milo Pavlovic, trumpet
Ron Simmonds, trumpet
Carmel Jones, trumpet
Manfred Stoppacher, trumpet
Harry Samp, trumpet
Ake Persson, trombone
Barry Ross, trombone
Slide Hampton, trombone
Jean Orieux, trombone
Kurt Masnick, trombone
Leo Wright, sax
Klaus Marmulla, sax
Rolf Roemer, sax
Adi Feurstein, sax
Freddy Lhost, sax
Jan Konopasek, sax
Kai Rautenberg, piano
Hajo Lange, bass
Heinz Niemeyer, drums
Dai Bowen, drums