Josh Nelson

Exploring Mars

Origin 82687

Get on the ground level, and invest in this guy now; with music like this, he's going to the penthouse.
- George Harris, Jazz Weekly

"Exploring Mars" is Josh Nelson's sixth recording as a leader, and where he ambitiously explores the Red Planet through exciting original compositions. Whimsically named after each Mars Rover - Curiosity, Opportunity, Sojourner, and Spirit - the bulk of the material features a stellar West Coast ensemble of jazz stars, including trumpeter John Daversa, guitarist Larry Koonse and trombonist Alan Ferber. Rounding out the record is a gorgeous love song featuring vocalist Kathleen Grace, a 6-piano rendition of "Mars, The Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's orchestral suite "The Planets," and a reading from Ray Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles."

Track Listing:

1. Spirit 5:28
2. Sojourner 6:14
3. Memnonia Quadrangle (featuring Larry Koonse) 3:32
4. How You Loved Me on Mars 5:48
5. Opportunity 5:54
6. Solis Lacus, The Eye of Mars 2:39
7. Mars, the Bringer of War 6:53
8. Curiosity 7:44
9. Syrtis Major, The Hourglass Sea 2:20
10. Spirit 5:25


Josh Nelson - piano, trumpet, Nord Electro 3
John Daversa - trumpet and EVI
Larry Koonse - guitar
Dave Robaire - bass
Dan Schnelle - drums
Kathleen Grace - vocals
Alan Ferber - trombone
Brian Walsh - bass clarinet
Larry Goldings - B3 organ (4)

Production Info:

Produced by Josh Nelson
Recorded by Talley Sherwood at TriTone Studios, Los Angeles, CA
February, 2014
Mixed by Alex Chaloff at Bucket's Moving Company
Mastered by Eric Boulanger at The Mastering Lab, Ojai, CA
Cover design & layout by John Bishop

Reviews of Exploring Mars

All About Jazz (Dan McClenaghan)
4 1/2 STARS - Mars, the forth planet from the sun - that blood red star arcing across the sky - has been investigated by many in the arts. Before NASA landed four rovers on the red planet's surface, science fiction writers took up the task of exploring our planetary neighbor: Edgar Rice Burroughs with his fantastic Barsoom series, beginning with P ...

Bird is the Worm (Dave Sumner)
Pianist Nelson’s ode to the Red Planet, inspired by science, stories and space travel. A deft mix of solo, small & large ensemble, instrumental and vocal pieces. For an album with a (relatively) small sound, it’s awfully damn exhilarating. ... (Jack Goodstein)
Pianist-composer Josh Nelson’s follow-up to his 2011 science fiction-inspired album Discoveries, Exploring Mars delivers everything you would expect from an album with that title. Taking inspiration from actual science as well as science fiction, Nelson takes the listener along on a journey of musical exploration of variations on his Martian them ...

KUCI, Irvine, CA (Hobart Taylor)
A concept album that begins with a jazz bed under a reading from Ray Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles" and continues with a variety of styles to evoke mental images and imaginings of the "red planet". I like the offbeat ballad "How I Loved You on Mars", the Metheny like "Sojourner","Memnonia Quadrangle", a guitar meditation, and "Spirit" ...

All About Jazz (Dan Bilawsky)
4-STARS - Exploring Mars is fueled by a love of science fiction, intellectual inquisitiveness, and musical inventiveness of the highest order. Pianist Josh Nelson, initially inspired by the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars in the summer of 2012, put together a project that's musically expansive and wholly unique: It's safe to say that he's ...

AXS (Carol Banks Weber)
Josh Nelson’s known in L.A. as an in-demand sideman and session player for jazz vocalists like Sara Gazarek ("Blossom & Bee") and Kathleen Grace ("No Place To Fall"). He often takes over the show, suspending vocal animation, with his imaginative comps and classically induced solos that seek to beautify the story without over-embellishing. But ... (Carol Banks Weber)
At L.A.’s Blue Whale as far back as 2012, jazz pianist and composer Josh Nelson previewed parts of his highly experimental Exploring Mars album project with sound and visual imagery, culminating in a two-night, multi-media CD release show last month. At times during the listening-only portion of the album, you want to frequently refer back to tho ...

LA Weekly (Gary Fukushima)
The Martian Chronicles author Ray Bradbury said, “You fail only if you stop writing.” Josh Nelson, who otherwise would be merely the world’s best jazz piano accompanist, has written a lot of music as of late, continuing to unearth new worlds with his Discovery Project. His new album, Exploring Mars, is an homage to the Red Planet and its secr ...

Critical Jazz (Brent Black)
A dazzling exploration of harmonic possibilities, Exploring Mars is a triumph! A very cerebral recording, Exploring Mars continues his influences drawn from a personal love of science fiction, Exploring Mars embraces an almost three dimensional sonic depth of field. The conceptual aspect causes only few minor bumps in the road as the spoken word ...

The Jazz Page (Editor)
Composer-pianist Josh Nelson takes us on a journey to the red planet in his concept-driven new recording. Exploring Mars was inspired by the four robotic rovers exploring the planet and Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”. The sounds and feeling of the music certainly reflects the interstellar journey on which the listener embarks from th ...

Downbeat (Kirk Silsbee)
Josh Nelson is the most accomplished of the younger L.A. jazz pianist-arrangers, and he has assembled a fine group of originals, along with Holst's foreboding "Mars, Bringer of War," on Exploring Mars. An opening reading from Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles sets the tone, with Nelson handling the relaxed recitation over Larry Koonse's discreet gu ...

Improvijazzation Nation (Rotcod Zzaj)
If space travel involves great jazz music like Josh produces with his piano & trumpet (joined by a whole host of high-talent players), I've no doubt we would have a horde of folks signing up for the voyage. While it remains totally accessible, even for the traditional of jazz listeners, Josh makes it move in directions that you don't hear coming ...





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