Ted Nash is justly renowned for his sweeping, set-piece orchestrations. He came out of L.A., the son and nephew of musicians who played in big bands and on movie soundtracks, settled in as an ace arranger under Wynton Marsalis for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and has subsequently mounted big-band projects that have been nominated for a Grammy (Portrait in Seven Shades, 2011) or won one (Presidential Suite, 2017).
But Nash is nearly as accomplished, and a lot more fun, working on the fly in smaller ensembles, a fact he seems to embrace on Live at Dizzy’s. You don’t enlist vibraphonist Warren Wolf and pianist Gary Versace unless you want to play around, and with Matt Wilson on drums beside bassist Rufus Reid, you enhance the rewards of every risk. You make yourself the only horn, and feature the flute and clarinet more than in your typical sax-centric regimen. Then you book three nights in an intimate club and make your first live recording in more than 25 years.