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Bill Nelson: New and Old Music

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For several decades, Bill Nelson has released exotic pop music and sensuous instrumental excursions at an alarming rate. The man's creative juices appear as limitless and inexhaustible as his musical talent.

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BILL NELSON: Return to Jazz of Lights (CD on Sonoluxe)

This CD from 2006 offers 55 minutes of pop music laced with soft jazz.With this release, Nelson sets aside his pop maestro cap and applies his multi-instrumental virtuosity to the smoky realm of an afterhours jazz club.

Sultry piano twinkles out dreamy chords amid a sashaying hiss of soft percussion and xylophonic slides. Understated horn sections cascade from stage left, punctuating the melodies with dramatic trim. An essential interplay is achieved between these brass surges and sparkling guitar riffs.

Despite these variegated sounds and moods, guitar still plays a vital role in this tuneage. The styles, though, are remarkably diverse; one moment chords sear with endearing rock sentiments, the next the riffs are smoldering with a strong fusion influence. Powerful performance and inventive skill imbues each strain with vivid appeal.

The vocals retain Nelson's signature resonance, deep and emotionally vibrant, the penultimate voice of romantic crooning. The singing blends tastefully with the swaying music, generating a bewitching union of devotion and starry nights.

As usual, Nelson possesses a bottomless reservoir of compositional depth. These songs shine with assiduous melodies, attractive and quite memorable. His fascination for linking spirituality and love flourishes as he belts out tunes that glorify human relationships. The keynote here is positivism, resulting in a series of uplifting tracks that will find happy homes in your head.

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BILL NELSON: Getting the Holy Ghost Across (On a Blue Wing) (CD on Sonoluxe)

This 2006 release is a reissue of Nelson's classic "Getting the Holy Ghost Across" album from 1986 (which bore the name "On a Blue Wing" in the USA). Included on the 79 minute CD with the original album are all seven tracks from his "Living for the Spangled Moment" mini-album and "The Yo-Yo Dyne", a delightful EP track. Extensive liner notes reveal the release's controversial history.

Accompanying Nelson on this release are: Andy Davis (on additional keyboards), Iain Denby (on bass), Peter Geeves (on violin), Ian Nelson, William Gregory, and Dick Morrisey (all on saxophone), and Preston Hayman (on percussion).

The guitarwork here is superb, highlighting Nelson's mastery of the E-bow guitar which bends notes into liquid ambrosia of dizzying rapture. Even his untreated guitar playing is worthy of deification.

Intricate percussion provides a maze of enchanting rhythms that goad the tunes into highly peppy territory. These tempos reach a mesmerizing level that could stand alone with magnificent appeal.

Keyboards and electronics provide a glistening strata of heavenly scope, luscious and fascinating in its expansive adhesion, pulling everything together into an irresistible marriage of epic instances seasoned with reverent epiphanies.

Expressive horns herald the escalation of melodies to dramatic proportion, injecting celestial status to the already buoyant tunes. Violin adds a tender edge to the bouncy tuneage.

Nelson's vocals resound with a holistic command that conveys authority and sympathy with equal resolve. While not pushy or overt, the optimistic messages contained within the lyrics are impossible to ignore. These songs stand as enticing anthems for celebrating life and the hopes for a better tomorrow.

Admittedly, Nelson has a voluminous back catalog of releases, and many contain delightfully memorable tunes--but several audiophiles consider this album to be one of his pinnacle achievements. Besides featuring numerous familiar hits (like "Contemplation" and "Wildest Dreams"), the selection offered here maintains a steadfast commitment to fervent sonic bliss. The quality of this music will dazzle the listener; the dedication to ecstasy is relentless.

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