Ropeadope to release John L Nelson recording produced by Sharon L. Nelson

January 29, 2018

Don’t Play With Love, the highly anticipated recording of John L. Nelson’s compositions is set for worldwide release on March 2, 2018.  Preorders will begin on January 29 via the Ropeadope Select online store. The album features Jazz legends Louis Hayes, Vincent Herring, Jeremy Pelt, Dezron Douglas, and Richard Germanson, and was recorded at Paisley Park with Sharon L. Nelson as producer.

John L. Nelson is perhaps best known as Prince’s father, yet he was a Jazz performer and most importantly, a prolific composer in his own right. For many years he intended to collaborate on this release with his eldest daughter, Sharon L. Nelson. After the passing of her father, and then the untimely passing of her brother, Sharon decided to complete the recording.

Calling on John’s nephew – Louis Hayes – Sharon assembled the band at Paisley Park and they went straight to it. The tracks were recorded live – one take with little editing – and capture not only the feel of a golden era in Jazz, but also the subtle melodies that characterize John L Nelson’s style.

Our dad was a loving, caring, hardworking father and a prolific jazz musician most notably known as the father of the musical genius, our brother Prince. Our dad wrote and composed many songs, but they were never recorded until now. He was Prince’s musical inspiration, and this project is very special because it was recorded in Paisley Park.  (Sharon L. Nelson)

The Story            

It’s like any other story - or every other story if you dig in. A man carries the mantle and holds down a career for love and for family, while his creative instinct persists in his off time. John L. Nelson was the first black man hired at Honeywell in Minneapolis, and for 35 years he was off to work at 7 AM. At night he would compose, and play his music on the piano. The kids would head to bed upstairs at 7:30, and they’d drift off to sleep listening to their father’s piano playing.

Born in Webster Parish Louisiana, John L. Nelson did start as a player – he went by the stage name Prince Rogers and gigged around town at the clubs and burlesque houses. But he kept the day job and wrote steadily – there may well be hundreds of songs out there, or they may be lost for all time.

Years went by and John L. Nelson divorced and remarried, fathering two children. His son was named Prince Rogers Nelson. His love for music persisted, and somehow his emphasis on family connection did as well. At the start of the history we all know, His eldest daughter Sharon ended up hosting her brother - the man we all know as Prince, in Rahway NJ and shopped his talent around to major record labels. They all declined.

Sharon showed Prince around New York, one moment looking at Madison Square Garden and saying ‘That is where you will be when you are famous.’

The next years are history we all know - from Purple Rain to the untimely death of a genius and icon who changed music forever. But the back story is one of family roots, however challenging. John L. Nelson was often in touch with both Sharon and Prince, collaborating on songs. Sharon quotes her father ‘Your money is in your melody’, as she reflects on her ability to pick out the melodies from his songs. They spoke together of releasing an album of his music as early as 1978, but time got the better of them and John went on to collaborate with his son.

John L. Nelson passed away in 2001, and the force that held the siblings together was gone. In 2017 Sharon L. Nelson was cleaning out a cabinet and the sheet music for seven of John L. Nelson’s songs just fell out and scattered, and the concept that began in 1978 was cosmically revived. After the untimely death of her brother, Sharon set a date to record the music at Paisley Park.

Sharon L. Nelson speaks of her father in great detail and with great respect. John L. Nelson was a Jazz Man; a self taught player who leaves a legacy of his own. To honor that legacy, she would record this album in a straight up Bebop way, so she brought in the best. Louis Hayes needs little introduction in the Jazz world, and just happens to be the nephew of John L. Nelson. The band met at Paisley Park, which Hayes describes as ‘…a very unique experience, like going to the great Pyramid, the final tomb."

The band is beyond seasoned – Hayes on drums, Jeremy Pelt on , Vincent Herring on Sax, Dezron Douglas on,  and pianist Rick Germanson. They hit the studio with little advance knowledge of the music, and got down to business. No playbacks, no overdubs – one take to stay true to the full intent and legacy of the man and his compositions. The result is pure and timeless, providing a clear image of the composer’s time and the feeling of a present day performance.

Our personalities are a lot alike, but his music is like nothing I’ve ever heard before. It’s more complex. A lot of beautiful melodies are hidden beneath the complexity. (Prince)

As producer, Sharon L. Nelson has properly carried forward the intent and legacy of John L. Nelson and his compositions. The best let the music play without getting in the way, and her choices of musicians, setting, and method deliver a recording that fully stands as a dynamic historical document and a fitting tribute to a man who left a legacy of both music and family.

John L. Nelson spent his latter days at The Purple House in Chanhassen, Minnesota. He had a studio in the basement where he would compose and play in the evenings, but not too late. There’s a track on ‘Don’t Play With Love’ entitled ‘Lonely’. As Sharon says ‘My Dad was lonely, as musicians can be. They love their family, but music is in the soul. You have to be alone to create this music.

Don’t Play With Love – The John L. Nelson Project, the highly anticipated recording of John L. Nelson’s compositions is set for worldwide release on Marc 2, 2018.  Preorders will begin on January 8th  via the Ropeadope Select online store. The album features Jazz legends Louis Hayes, Vincent Herring, Jeremy Pelt, Dezron Douglas, and Richard Germanson, and was recorded at Paisley Park with Sharon L. Nelson as producer.

John L. Nelson is perhaps best known as Prince’s father, yet he was a Jazz performer and most importantly, a prolific composer in his own right. For many years he intended to collaborate on this release with his eldest daughter, Sharon L. Nelson. After the passing of her father, and then the untimely passing of her brother, Sharon decided to complete the recording in honor of her father’s 100th birthday.

Calling on John’s nephew – The legendary Louis Hayes – Sharon assembled the band at Paisley Park and they went straight to it. The tracks were recorded live – one take with little editing – and capture not only the feel of a golden era in Jazz, but also the subtle melodies that characterize John L Nelson’s style.

Our dad was a loving, caring, hardworking father and a prolific jazz musician most notably known as the father of the musical genius, our brother Prince. Our dad wrote and composed many songs, but they were never recorded until now. He was Prince’s musical inspiration, and this project is very special because it was recorded in Paisley Park and guided by the spirits of my father and brother Prince.  (Sharon L. Nelson)

'He told me one time that he has dreams where he’d see a keyboard in front of his eyes and he’d see his hands on the keyboard and he’d hear a melody. And he can get up and it can be like 4: 30 a.m. and he can walk right downstairs to his piano and play the melody. And to me that’s amazing because there’s no work involved really; he’s just given a gift in each song. He never comes out of the house unless it’s to get something to eat and he goes right back in and he plays all the time. His music. . .one day I hope you’ ll get to hear it. It’s just—it sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard.' (Prince)

Based on this evidence, John L. Nelson was an excellent mainstream jazz composer, and everyone playing his music here gives it the respect it deserves.
— Phil Freeman, Stereogum
The result is a sophisticated, timeless set of bebop tunes. Sharon Nelson’s cousin, jazz drummer Louis Hayes, leads the way; his band, comprising Rick Germanson on piano, Vincent Herring on saxophone, Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, and Dezron Douglas on bass, keeps right up. Observing tempos fast and slow, the band holds John Nelson’s strong compositions up to the light — and the music gleams.
— Cecelia Johnson, The Current
While Don’t Play with Love will be a gift for listeners, for Sharon it is a testament to the bonds of family and a connection to the past. “He was a very serious person about love,” Sharon said of her father. Reflecting on her own life, she added, “You should not play with love, you should take it seriously…those listening [to this album] will see that Sharon and her dad were both serious about not playing around with love.” And if serious love means dedication and commitment, then the creation of Don’t Play with Love is a shining example of love at its strongest.
— Max Savage Levenson, Bandcamp Daily

 

Press Contact (Ropeadope):

Fabian Brown – Fabian@ropeadope.com

Louis Marks – louis@ropeadope.com

 


Don't Play With Love - The John L. Nelson Project

Release Date: March 2 2018

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Musicians

Louis Hayes - Drums

Richard Germanson - Piano

Dezron Douglas - Bass

Vincent Herring - Saxophone

Jeremy Pelt - Trumpet

Adi Yeshaya - Conductor, String Orchestration

Alison Ostrander - Violin

Jill Olson Moser - Violin

Susan Janda - Viola

Rebecca Arons - Cello

Production

Sharon L. Nelson - Producer

Co-Producer - Charles F. Spicer Jr.

Executive Producer - L. Londell McMillan

Engineer - Jason Miller

Engineer - Try Bishop

Mastering - Greg Reierson

Recorded at Paisley Park