Todd Nelson's TN3
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Todd Nelson's TN3

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Oct
04
Todd Nelson's TN3 @ University Club Grille Room

Albany, New York, USA

Albany, New York, USA

Sep
14
Todd Nelson's TN3 @ Splendor in the Park

Albany, New York, USA

Albany, New York, USA

Aug
24
Todd Nelson's TN3 @ 9 Maple Ave

Saratoga Springs, New York, USA

Saratoga Springs, New York, USA

Music

Press


Who’d have thought 30 years ago that Rod Stewart would be making his living crooning the Great American Songbook? My guess would be nobody. Nevertheless, for any number of reasons – unemployment, the economy, or just out of plain old boredom – many people nowadays are feeling the need to re-invent themselves professionally, and musicians are no exception. The best local example is guitarist Todd Nelson, known primarily for his time in one of the region’s more legendary bands, the Units (later known as Fear of Strangers). Nelson’s still rocking out with the Rumdummies, but he just dropped a Smart Bomb called Here, and it’s one of my favorite things in the world – a jazz disc you can drive to.??Yes, in the right conditions, it’s possible to get your auto on to almost any kind of music; for instance, the combination of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”, a quality car audio system, and Route 2 in the Berkshires is purely intoxicating. But for anyone with an affinity for rock & roll, good driving music demands a strong backbeat and a groove that gets your head nodding. Here delivers that right from the jump with “Lois is Out.” Manuel Quintana’s drumbeat is lead-pencil simple, as is Kyle Esposito’s fretless bass, and Nelson opens the festivities with nice chunky chords that give the melody a robust foundation. His subsequent solo is free of the usual “LOOK AT ME” acrobatics that tend to pervade guitar-based instrumentals. “Lois” is all about the groove, which stays straight, true, and head-bobbingly good.??And the groove rarely stops on Here, though it is nicely varied. “Wheels across Sonoma” recalls music from one of the Pat Metheny Group’s best albums, the soaring travelogue American Garage: You get the sensation of hot wind blowing through the sunroof as your car cruises through the Mexican countryside, maybe on the way to California. “Crestfallen” is a bluesy waltz with a big fat beat, while “Into the House” is a ballad with a spine of iron. (It’s also a marvelous portrait of a place filled with peace, love, and – above all – safety.) The funfest (“Volts” one of two former Units numbers Nelson re-worked) would fit right in at a surf-music revival, and although the opening to “The Blacksmith” has a very meditative quality, the speaker buzz in the background transmits a not-so-subliminal message that says, “This one goes to 11.”??But that’s the thing: It doesn’t! Nelson’s not out to revive a form of guitar jazz that was ancient in the ‘80s and is practically prehistoric now, so blowing the doors off their hinges is not on the agenda. He wraps his jazz in the stripped-out ethic of punk, and the result is far from the same old thing; rather, it’s both rich and elegant at the same time. The disc’s only “weak’ point is that Nelson’s is the only strong solo voice: Esposito’s spotlight moments may give the pieces variation, but his efforts are only serviceable. That said, adding a keyboard or a reed player would have robbed Here of the uncomplicated vibe that is its best feature. Happily, Nelson realizes that yesterday’s answers are not what we need today. Here is not your grandfather’s fusion disc, and that’s something worth firing up your ride and heading for the highway… even if you do need snow tires to stay on the road.? - Albanyjazz.com


Who’d have thought 30 years ago that Rod Stewart would be making his living crooning the Great American Songbook? My guess would be nobody. Nevertheless, for any number of reasons – unemployment, the economy, or just out of plain old boredom – many people nowadays are feeling the need to re-invent themselves professionally, and musicians are no exception. The best local example is guitarist Todd Nelson, known primarily for his time in one of the region’s more legendary bands, the Units (later known as Fear of Strangers). Nelson’s still rocking out with the Rumdummies, but he just dropped a Smart Bomb called Here, and it’s one of my favorite things in the world – a jazz disc you can drive to.??Yes, in the right conditions, it’s possible to get your auto on to almost any kind of music; for instance, the combination of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”, a quality car audio system, and Route 2 in the Berkshires is purely intoxicating. But for anyone with an affinity for rock & roll, good driving music demands a strong backbeat and a groove that gets your head nodding. Here delivers that right from the jump with “Lois is Out.” Manuel Quintana’s drumbeat is lead-pencil simple, as is Kyle Esposito’s fretless bass, and Nelson opens the festivities with nice chunky chords that give the melody a robust foundation. His subsequent solo is free of the usual “LOOK AT ME” acrobatics that tend to pervade guitar-based instrumentals. “Lois” is all about the groove, which stays straight, true, and head-bobbingly good.??And the groove rarely stops on Here, though it is nicely varied. “Wheels across Sonoma” recalls music from one of the Pat Metheny Group’s best albums, the soaring travelogue American Garage: You get the sensation of hot wind blowing through the sunroof as your car cruises through the Mexican countryside, maybe on the way to California. “Crestfallen” is a bluesy waltz with a big fat beat, while “Into the House” is a ballad with a spine of iron. (It’s also a marvelous portrait of a place filled with peace, love, and – above all – safety.) The funfest (“Volts” one of two former Units numbers Nelson re-worked) would fit right in at a surf-music revival, and although the opening to “The Blacksmith” has a very meditative quality, the speaker buzz in the background transmits a not-so-subliminal message that says, “This one goes to 11.”??But that’s the thing: It doesn’t! Nelson’s not out to revive a form of guitar jazz that was ancient in the ‘80s and is practically prehistoric now, so blowing the doors off their hinges is not on the agenda. He wraps his jazz in the stripped-out ethic of punk, and the result is far from the same old thing; rather, it’s both rich and elegant at the same time. The disc’s only “weak’ point is that Nelson’s is the only strong solo voice: Esposito’s spotlight moments may give the pieces variation, but his efforts are only serviceable. That said, adding a keyboard or a reed player would have robbed Here of the uncomplicated vibe that is its best feature. Happily, Nelson realizes that yesterday’s answers are not what we need today. Here is not your grandfather’s fusion disc, and that’s something worth firing up your ride and heading for the highway… even if you do need snow tires to stay on the road.? - Albanyjazz.com


Instrumental
Todd Nelson "Here"
Todd Nelson plays guitar.
Over the past 35 years, he's put his six-string to service in a long line of bands -- including but not limited to early country rockers Silver Chicken, legendary Albany new-wavers Fear of Strangers, and, more recently, the funky, percolating Rumdummies.
In those contexts, Nelson was always the support behind a voice -- sometimes his own, more often another's. With the release of "Here," though, he's finally singing with his truest voice, his two hands.
"Here" is an entirely instrumental album populated with compositions from across Nelson's long career.
Initially, "Here" is frustrating and satisfying in equal measure. Frustrating because it can't seem to make up its mind whether it's a jazz record or a rock record; and, ultimately (after repeated listening), satisfying for the very same reasons.
The opening track "Lois is Out," for example, refashions FoS's "I Need To Be Told" as a long-lost outtake from Pat Metheny's "American Garage." "Crestfallen" is a blues-tinged ballad that lets Nelson flash some of his favorite Ry Cooder licks. And "Volts" -- another FoS standard, minus the goofy lyrics -- pops like rockabilly while the traditional tune "The Blacksmith" is spare and airy.
Throughout "Here," Nelson's rhythm section of fretless bassist Kyle Esposito and drummer Manuel Quintana provides much more than just able support. Some of Esposito's solos -- like the supple runs in "Wheels Across Sonora" -- shine as strong as any of Nelson's best moments. And Quintana drives everything with rock-solid time. - Albany Times-Union


Instrumental
Todd Nelson "Here"
Todd Nelson plays guitar.
Over the past 35 years, he's put his six-string to service in a long line of bands -- including but not limited to early country rockers Silver Chicken, legendary Albany new-wavers Fear of Strangers, and, more recently, the funky, percolating Rumdummies.
In those contexts, Nelson was always the support behind a voice -- sometimes his own, more often another's. With the release of "Here," though, he's finally singing with his truest voice, his two hands.
"Here" is an entirely instrumental album populated with compositions from across Nelson's long career.
Initially, "Here" is frustrating and satisfying in equal measure. Frustrating because it can't seem to make up its mind whether it's a jazz record or a rock record; and, ultimately (after repeated listening), satisfying for the very same reasons.
The opening track "Lois is Out," for example, refashions FoS's "I Need To Be Told" as a long-lost outtake from Pat Metheny's "American Garage." "Crestfallen" is a blues-tinged ballad that lets Nelson flash some of his favorite Ry Cooder licks. And "Volts" -- another FoS standard, minus the goofy lyrics -- pops like rockabilly while the traditional tune "The Blacksmith" is spare and airy.
Throughout "Here," Nelson's rhythm section of fretless bassist Kyle Esposito and drummer Manuel Quintana provides much more than just able support. Some of Esposito's solos -- like the supple runs in "Wheels Across Sonora" -- shine as strong as any of Nelson's best moments. And Quintana drives everything with rock-solid time. - Albany Times-Union


Guitarslinger Todd Nelson has been a mainstay on the Nippertown music scene for more years than he probably wants to count – from the crackling country-rock of Silver Chicken to the bristling new wave of the Units (later renamed Fear of Strangers) to the more recent groove-gurgling swamp-rock of Rumdummies, to name just a few of the stops that he’s made along the way.
None of which exactly prepares you for his just-released album, “Here,” recorded at Cotton Hill Studios in Albany. The first surprise is that it’s an all-instrumental album. Secondly, it’s a solo album only in that it’s Nelson’s name above the title; it’s actually a trio that also features the sublimely slippery fretless bass of Kyle Esposito and the percolating drumming of Manuel Quintana, who both happen to be Nelson’s bandmates when they back up singer-songwriter Anna Cheeks.
Thirdly – and most importantly – the music leans toward the jazz end of the spectrum, especially on the two traditional tunes: the eight-minute, gospel-informed “Into the House” and the seductive, snaking treatment of “The Blacksmith.” I wouldn’t necessarily classify this as a jazz album – or anything else, for that matter – but the influence is certainly there.
Elsewhere on the album, Nelson re-configures nuggets from his days with the Units, including the bubbling, boogie-blues bump of “Volts” and the angular sophistication of “Dinosaurs,” both of which Nelson co-authored with Units bassist Steve Cohen back in the day.
There’s also the smooth-but-funky lead-off track, “Lois Is Out,” fueled by Quintana’s backbeat and syncopated cowbell. If I’m not mistaken, the song is actually another vintage Units nugget, “I Need to Be Told,” which for some reason has been re-titled.
Rounding out the album are the litling ballad “Crestfallen” and the moody, but gently chugging “Wheels Across Sonora,” a pair of tunes Nelson co-penned with his Rumdummies bandmate, harmonicat Pat Conover.
Nelson’s guitar sound is clean and crisp, but always warm, bringing to mind Bill Frisell, not just in sound, but also in the genre-smashing eclectism of his repertoire.
Despite his lengthy musical career, Nelson’s recorded output has been all too sparse. This album goes a long, long way in remedying that situation. A stellar break-out recording that is worth the wait. - Nippertown.com - review by Greg Haymes


Guitarslinger Todd Nelson has been a mainstay on the Nippertown music scene for more years than he probably wants to count – from the crackling country-rock of Silver Chicken to the bristling new wave of the Units (later renamed Fear of Strangers) to the more recent groove-gurgling swamp-rock of Rumdummies, to name just a few of the stops that he’s made along the way.
None of which exactly prepares you for his just-released album, “Here,” recorded at Cotton Hill Studios in Albany. The first surprise is that it’s an all-instrumental album. Secondly, it’s a solo album only in that it’s Nelson’s name above the title; it’s actually a trio that also features the sublimely slippery fretless bass of Kyle Esposito and the percolating drumming of Manuel Quintana, who both happen to be Nelson’s bandmates when they back up singer-songwriter Anna Cheeks.
Thirdly – and most importantly – the music leans toward the jazz end of the spectrum, especially on the two traditional tunes: the eight-minute, gospel-informed “Into the House” and the seductive, snaking treatment of “The Blacksmith.” I wouldn’t necessarily classify this as a jazz album – or anything else, for that matter – but the influence is certainly there.
Elsewhere on the album, Nelson re-configures nuggets from his days with the Units, including the bubbling, boogie-blues bump of “Volts” and the angular sophistication of “Dinosaurs,” both of which Nelson co-authored with Units bassist Steve Cohen back in the day.
There’s also the smooth-but-funky lead-off track, “Lois Is Out,” fueled by Quintana’s backbeat and syncopated cowbell. If I’m not mistaken, the song is actually another vintage Units nugget, “I Need to Be Told,” which for some reason has been re-titled.
Rounding out the album are the litling ballad “Crestfallen” and the moody, but gently chugging “Wheels Across Sonora,” a pair of tunes Nelson co-penned with his Rumdummies bandmate, harmonicat Pat Conover.
Nelson’s guitar sound is clean and crisp, but always warm, bringing to mind Bill Frisell, not just in sound, but also in the genre-smashing eclectism of his repertoire.
Despite his lengthy musical career, Nelson’s recorded output has been all too sparse. This album goes a long, long way in remedying that situation. A stellar break-out recording that is worth the wait. - Nippertown.com - review by Greg Haymes


That Todd Nelson is a skilled guitarist is not in question. His curriculum vitae boasts big names across the musical spectrum, and if everyone from Ry Cooder to Nick Lowe have found something in Nelson’s playing to sink their teeth into, who am I to argue? But when a skilled guitarist becomes the focus of a full album, sometimes things get out of hand and, well, show-offy. Fortunately, Nelson isn’t just talented; he’s also tasteful.


Nelson’s trio on his new album, Here, is rounded out by the fretless bass of Kyle Esposito and the drums of Manuel Quintana. Though there’s sometimes the temptation to overdo it in an effort to fill in space when the band is so small, Nelson and company seem comfortable allowing silence and subtlety to accentuate the strength of the playing. It’s a powerful result, as on the aptly-titled “Crestfallen,” which evokes an emotion about as well as any song in recent memory has done.

“Volts” is also perfectly named, as it’s something of an energetic rockabilly romp. “Into the House,” at nearly eight minutes in length, doesn’t necessarily feel like the work of David Gilmour, but there’s enough outer space there to make the comparison.

Coming in at seven songs and around three-quarters of an hour, Here is just the right amount of music delivered with both skill and style. What more could anyone want from an instrumental guitar album? —Crispin Kott - Roll Magazine - review by Crispin Kott


A longtime fixture of the Albany music scene, the guitarist Todd Nelson is more often than not seen as a band member or sideman than an artist, but with “Here,” that is soon to change.??Along with Nelson, fine Ulster country players Kyle Esposito on bass and Manuel Quintana on drums provided spirited accompaniment.??Nelson has carved a nifty niche with chord melody playing — a lost art — starting out with “Lois Is Out,” its jazzy lilt balanced by the forceful playing of Quintana and Esposito (including an impressive bass solo). Meanwhile, the melancholic “Crestfallen” holds a soulful solo by Nelson.??“Volts” is an old-time rocker, while the sinister “Dinosaurs” is a highlight, as is the gorgeous “Wheels Across Sonora,” which features another inventive solo by Esposito.??Nelson’s graceful playing is subtle and full of nuance, understated and respectful of the tune, not just out on it’s own agenda. It’s not really smooth jazz — it’s got too much heart for that. What ever you call it, it’s good, and you should get it.? - Kingston Daily Freeman - review by David Malachowski


Todd Nelson
A founding member of storied Albany new-wave outfit Fear of Strangers, Todd Nelson is a preternaturally tasteful guitar player whose jazz and blues-flavored improv skills have been utilized by such varied acts as Aimee Mann, Hayseed and local rock & rollers the Rumdummies. Billed simply as ·music for guitar, bass and drums,· Here is a seven-song affair filled with no-frills instrumentals that highlight Nelson·s clean, clear electric guitar tone and always interesting melodic sense. Comprising five originals, along with arrangements for two traditional tunes, ·Into the House· and ·The Blacksmith,· the album is enjoyable from start to finish, ranging from the Steely Dan-esque sophistication of ·Dinosaurs· (co-written with Rumdummies bandmate Pat Conover) to the rueful balladry of ·Crestfallen.·

Nelson impresses without ever showboating; while more nimble-fingered than most ax-slingers (at times bringing to mind such heavyweights as Bill Frisell and John Scofield), his guitar lines hew mindfully to the emotional intent of each composition, and he is always sure to leave plenty of space for both the melody and his rhythm section. Composed of bassist Kyle Esposito and drummer Manuel Quintana, this solid and ·in-the-pocket· duo can usually be found backing up Hudson Valley songstress Anna Cheek (alongside lead guitarist Nelson, naturally). It·s a joy to hear this trio explore beyond the boundaries of the standard singer-songwriter format.
Custom built for fans of instrumental rock and jazz, Here is unpretentious enough in its pleasures to please even those who don·t consider themselves aficionados. What Nelson and co. have made here is an exercise in melodic improvisation, well-built and extremely well-played. - Metroland Magazine


Todd Nelson
A founding member of storied Albany new-wave outfit Fear of Strangers, Todd Nelson is a preternaturally tasteful guitar player whose jazz and blues-flavored improv skills have been utilized by such varied acts as Aimee Mann, Hayseed and local rock & rollers the Rumdummies. Billed simply as ·music for guitar, bass and drums,· Here is a seven-song affair filled with no-frills instrumentals that highlight Nelson·s clean, clear electric guitar tone and always interesting melodic sense. Comprising five originals, along with arrangements for two traditional tunes, ·Into the House· and ·The Blacksmith,· the album is enjoyable from start to finish, ranging from the Steely Dan-esque sophistication of ·Dinosaurs· (co-written with Rumdummies bandmate Pat Conover) to the rueful balladry of ·Crestfallen.·

Nelson impresses without ever showboating; while more nimble-fingered than most ax-slingers (at times bringing to mind such heavyweights as Bill Frisell and John Scofield), his guitar lines hew mindfully to the emotional intent of each composition, and he is always sure to leave plenty of space for both the melody and his rhythm section. Composed of bassist Kyle Esposito and drummer Manuel Quintana, this solid and ·in-the-pocket· duo can usually be found backing up Hudson Valley songstress Anna Cheek (alongside lead guitarist Nelson, naturally). It·s a joy to hear this trio explore beyond the boundaries of the standard singer-songwriter format.
Custom built for fans of instrumental rock and jazz, Here is unpretentious enough in its pleasures to please even those who don·t consider themselves aficionados. What Nelson and co. have made here is an exercise in melodic improvisation, well-built and extremely well-played. - Metroland Magazine


Discography

Todd Nelson - "Here" (trio CD available at CD Baby and iTunes) As a sideman or band member: Rob Beaulieu's "Raisinhead" and "Evoking the Sun", Pal Shazar's "There's a Wild Thing in the House", and Rumdummie's "Too Dum to Quit."
Manuel and Kyle can also be heard on Anna Cheek's "Water Over the Bridge", "Live at Mast Cove" and The Meg Johnson Band's "Between You and the Golden Sun."

Photos

Bio

Todd Nelson is a guitarist who has recorded or performed with Terry Adams (NRBQ), Gary Burke (Dylan Joe Jackson), Hayseed, Aimee Mann, Ed Mann (Frank Zappa), Rumdummies, Pal Shazar, Jules Shear, The Wheelers and Dealers and others. He was a founding member of Fear of Strangers (aka The Units), a band that was an integral part of the New Wave scene in the Hudson Valley of New York in the 1980s, releasing an album on Miles Copeland's Faulty Products label. The band shared stages with the Police, Squeeze, the B-52s, XTC, Iggy Pop and others around the Northeast.
Kyle Esposito and Manuel Quintana are both highly sought after musicians in New York's Hudson Valley. Kyle has played with George Baker (Marvin Gaye), Fourth House, Less Deluxe and the Meg Johnson Band. Manuel has worked with the Orleans, Jim Weider, Robbie Dupree and the Meg Johnson Band as well. Both also currently play in Anna Cheek's band.