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Josh Nelson releases "The Sky Remains"

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    Posted: 21 Aug 2017 at 7:28am
SEPTEMBER 15, 2017


THE SKY REMAINS is native Angeleno JOSH NELSON's love letter to Los Angeles. Each of the 10 story-driven tunes on this thematic album tells a tale of hidden gems and little-known stories about the city. Throughout this ambitious outing, Nelson and his talented band of fellow Angelenos musically explore the city's treasures while uncovering lost history and acknowledging a few L.A. icons along the way.
Nelson says, "You can glean the future growth of the city by looking back at its history. So many things about L.A. have left an indelible impression on me, and there seems to be so many themes yet to be explored that I think I could almost do another volume. These projects under the Discovery Project umbrella all feel very cinematic to me." Indeed, live performances of THE SKY REMAINS utilize dramatic multimedia film footage that creates an immersive experience for the audience.
The collection kicks off with a sense of mystery and awe on "Bridges and Tunnels," fueled by some swirling counterpoint and featuring the wordless vocals of KATHLEEN GRACE in synch with CHRIS LAWRENCE's trumpet. Nelson and guitarist ANTHONY WILSON, who is also the album's co-producer, exchange flowing lines in the extended solo section before the piece builds to a dynamic peak. The wistful title track opens with a poignant duet between Nelson and Grace. It proceeds to tell the sensational story of Griffith J. Griffith, who shot his wife in a drunken, paranoid rage. But the twist of this tale is that it's told from the point of view Mrs. Griffith.
Saxophonist JOSH JOHNSON's "On the Sidewalk" opens with fugue-like statements from the horns before Lawrence takes a bold trumpet solo and Nelson follows with a glistening piano solo. The tune is named for a column called 'On The Sidewalk,' written by Charlotta Bass. Bass was the first African-American woman to own and operate a newspaper in the United States. She used the column in her paper, The California Eagle, to illuminate issues related to the African American community and other local neighborhood concerns.
"The Architect" was composed for Josh's husband, an architect whose work contributes to the continual shaping of the urban environment of Los Angeles. Saxophonist JOSH JOHNSON, drummer DAN SCHNELLE and bassist ALEX BONEHAM all have strong solo features on this piece.
"Ah, Los Angeles" is inspired by the classic John Fante book Ask the Dust. It's about a young writer's struggle in 1930s L.A. and carries a lonesome and somewhat melancholy vibe, featuring a brilliant guitar solo from Wilson and evocative vocals by LILLIAN SENGPIEHL.
The Russ Garcia composition "Lost Souls of Saturn," from the 1959 album Fantastica, is lovingly rendered by Nelson and his crew to reflect the fascination with Polynesian Tiki culture that took hold in L.A. during the '30s.All the band members get to stretch outover the churning son montuno groove that Nelson conjures up in the middle of this piece of exotica.
Their faithful reading of Elliott Smith's "Pitseleh" (a Yiddish term of affection) pays homage to the enigmatic, indie singer-songwriter who committed suicide in Los Angeles in 2003 at age 34. After his death, fans put up The Elliott Smith mural in the neighborhood where Smith lived and died to show their love for the troubled artist.
"Pacific Ocean Park" opens with the haunting, Charles Ives-inspired sound of a merry-go-round. The tune portrays the plight of the one-time nautical-themed amusement park on a pier in Santa Monica that fell into disrepair and was ultimately abandoned by 1967.
"Run" is about Mack Robinson, who came in second in the 200-meter dash at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, finishing less than a half a second behind Jesse Owens. Ten years later, Mack's younger brother Jackie broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Living in the shadows of two sports legends, Mack Robinson remained in his native Pasadena as a city employee and a passionate activist against crime.
The album's closer, "Stairways," about the 400 historic stairways spread throughout Los Angeles' steep hillside neighborhoods, features brilliant solos from Lawrence, Johnson and Nelson and blends in a haunting slide guitar by Anthony Wilson.
Born and raised in Southern California, Nelson maintains an active and creative schedule as a jazz pianist, composer, teacher and recording artist. He has performed with some of the most respected names in jazz, including Kurt Elling, John Pizzarelli, Benny Golson, Sheila Jordan, and Peter Erskine.Nelson toured with legendary vocalist Natalie Cole for six years and continues to tour with vocalist Sara Gazarek and accordionist Richard Galliano, among others.
In 2006, Nelson was a semi-finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. His previous CDs as a leader include Anticipation (2004), Let it Go (2007), I Hear a Rhapsody (2009), Discoveries (2011), which introduced Nelson's Discovery Project, and Exploring Mars (2015).
THE SKY REMAINS will be available on Amazon and iTunes.  Watch a live performance video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVDBIdryILg.

Josh Nelson piano, Nord Electro 3, vocal 
Anthony Wilson guitar, vocal 
Kathleen Grace vocal 
Lillian Sengpiehl vocal 
Josh Johnson alto sax, flute 
Chris Lawrence trumpet, flugelhorn 
Brian Walsh Bb clarinet, bass clarinet 
Larry Goldings Hammond B3 organ 
Alex Boneham bass 
Dan Schnelle drums 
Aaron Serfaty percussion

5.   AH, LOS ANGELES 7:40
7.   PITSELEH 3:55
9.   RUN 5:04
10. STAIRWAYS 7:01

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Edited by js - 21 Aug 2017 at 7:29am
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