4 June 1932, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, d. 28 October 1975, Los Angeles, California, USA. After studying piano and alto saxophone, Nelson settled on playing the latter instrument, paying his dues in various territory bands. In the late 40s he was with the popular Jeter-Pillars Orchestra as well as that led by Nat Towles. Early in the 50s he was briefly with Louis Jordan but then resumed his studies at universities in Washington, DC, and Missouri, also taking lessons from the respected composer Elliott Carter. In New York in the late 50s, he worked in bands led by Erskine Hawkins and Louie Bellson, then moved on to the bands of Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones. He was writing extensively at this time, both as arranger and composer, and made several records under his own name, the best known with a small group that often featured leading jazz soloists such as Eric Dolphy and Freddie Hubbard. He later turned more to big band work, recording with numerous soloists who...
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