Text Box: jazz autographs


Phone: 212-860-5541


Price: $350.00



Scarce autographed and inscribed original Charles Stewart reverse blind stamped 8” x 10” photograph of the jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, composer, arranger, bandleader and innovator of what became Bop, New York, 1963.  The long inscription to bluesman Clyde Robinson states, Dear Clyde, Thanks so much for being a fan of mine.  I hope to give my very best in the future and that I can live up to all your expectations!  Best of luck, Oliver Nelson, New York, 1963.


The short lived Nelson (1932-1975), was one of the few major jazzmen who actually went to Washington University in St. Louis and Lincoln University to study music seriously receiving both a bachelors and masters degrees and studying composition with Elliot Carter, George Tremblay and Robert Wykes.


He began to play sax in public in 1947 at the age of fifteen in local St. Louis bands, the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra and George Hudson and Nat Towles bands, joining Louis Jordan’s band in New York in 1950 and stayed to 1951, there he played sax and arranging charts. The Korean War intervened and he was drafted into the Marines in 1952.  He earned his bachelors degree in 1957 and was so accomplished he gained his master’s degree the following year. 


After his graduation, he returned to New York City playing in Lou Bellson’s Band in 1959, as well as Wild Bill Davis, Coleman Hawkins and Lockjaw Davis’s Bands in 1960 and Duke Ellington and Count Basie’s Orchestras. He also was a regular side man and band leader for small combo recordings and also was the house arranger and bandleader at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.  In 1961 he joined Quincy Jones’s Big Band where he toured the United States and then Europe for the first time. 


In 1961, Nelson began working with the legendary alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy and put together the Oliver Nelson Septet and put out a number of records, such as “Straight Ahead”, “The Blues and the Abstract Truth” (also with Bill Evans) with Nelson’s “Stolen Moments” which became a huge hit and is now a jazz standard. Between Nelson’s academic credentials in music and Dolphy’s private study with composer Gunther Schuller and their technical abilities as musicians, they put together a new sound in the bebop movement that had not been heard before, very different from what Coltrane and Davis were doing at the time.


By 1965, Nelson had let go of most of his performance gigs and concentrated on arranging and composition.  His arrangements were legendary and for legendary performers including, Cannonball Adderly, Gene Ammons, Lockjaw Davis, Thelonius Monk, Buddy Rich, Sonny Rollins and Billy Taylor to name a few.  He also began a career in television music after arranging Sonny Rollins’ themes for the music for the 1966 film, “Alfie”.  He moved to Los Angeles to be near the studios and composed  music for an assortment of hit television series including: “Chase”, “Columbo”, “Ironside”,  “Night Gallery”, “The Six Million Dollar Man”.  He composed the music for the films, “Death of a Gunfighter”, “Skullduggery”, “Dial Hot Line”, “Zig Zag” and “The Alpha Caper” and also arranged the music for the film, “The Last Tango in Paris”.


Nelson also composed some serious classical music, including: a woodwind quintet, a cycle of songs for contralto, “Dirge” for chamber orchestra and “Soundpiece” for contralto and string quartet. (Which was commissioned for the Stuttgart Light Music Festival as “Soundpiece” for jazz orchestra in 1964. His Jazzhattan Suite for Jazz Orchestra was very much in line with Third Stream Jazz that Gunther Schuller was preaching in the late 1950’s.


In the late 1960’s Nelson took several tours to Europe with his septet and also with the State Department to Africa and Asia.  He was the “it” arranger by this point and between his film and television studio work, arranging and touring, at the age of forty three he suffered a massive heart attack and did not recover.


Today, he is best remembered for his two records in 1961 with his septet and Eric Dolphy, as well as his later recordings in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s with his live big band recordings.  His music on these recordings is innovative working within the bebop, modal and rhythm and blues genre.  His playing is skillful and unique at the time.


Charles Stewart (1927-2017) was one of the handful of legendary jazz photographers.  Some of the great he worked with include, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins and Sarah Vaughan.  His images graced the covers of over 2000 record jackets.