“Stolen Moments” – originally titled “The Stolen Moment” – was composed by Oliver Nelson and first performed by Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis’s big band project.

The song is the opening track of Oliver Nelson’s 1961 album, The Blues and the Abstract Truth. The album ranks among the best-selling jazz works of all time, showcasing the talents of recording artists Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Roy Haynes.

Nelson defies traditional musical labels, leading a musical career that was in a state of perennial flux until his untimely death in 1976. Nelson played alto saxophone in territory bands starting at the age of 15, then performed in jazz ensembles led by Erskine Hawkins and Louie Bellson in his twenties.

During 1960s, Nelson favored tenor saxophone, but shifted his attention toward arranging and composing music as the decade progressed. Following his move to Los Angeles in 1967, Nelson focused almost solely upon commercial projects, including music compositions for TV shows and chart-topping pop and soul acts.

“Stolen Moments” is a sophisticated composition, featuring intricate instrumentals and a unique resolve into the tonic major in the fourth bar of the melody, the latter of which is left out in some recordings. Despite the complexity of the tune, the blues form of the solos means that “Stolen Moments” is relatively accessible for even student bands to perform.

Source: The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire by Ted Gioia

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