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Steve Nelson: The Center of the Music

Vibraphonist Steve Nelson steps up his game as a bandleader

Photo of Steve Nelson
Steve Nelson (photo by Alan Nahigian)

Despite his stature as one of today’s most revered jazz vibraphonists, Steve Nelson ‘s discography as a leader is criminally small. Still, it’s a potent one built on experience playing with a long list of jazz luminaries, including Kenny Barron, David “Fathead” Newman and, perhaps most significant, Dave Holland.

Along his journey from his hometown of Pittsburgh to New York City, Nelson crossed paths with another significant jazz figure, the late pianist, composer and bandleader Mulgrew Miller, who became his kindred spirit. Nelson salutes Miller on his charming new disc, Brothers Under the Sun (HighNote), on which he leads a crackling quartet featuring pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash through 10 compositions, six of which were penned by Miller. JT recently spoke to the vibraphonist, 63, about his friendship with his beloved collaborator and his own prolific yet under-celebrated career. –JOHN MURPH

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