Stolen Moments (Oliver Nelson)

In Stolen Moments on October 5, 2012 at 8:42 am

“Stolen Moments” is a jazz standard composed by Oliver Nelson. It is a sixteen-bar piece (in an eight-six-two pattern), though the solos are on a conventional minor key 12 bar blues structure.

The piece first appeared as “The Stolen Moment” on the 1960 album Trane Whistle by Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, which was largely written and co-arranged by Oliver Nelson. It was not marked out as anything special, in fact the covernotes only mention that the trumpet solo is by Bob Bryant and that Eric Dolphy’s bass clarinet can be heard briefly on the closing. However, in the liner notes to Eric Dolphy: The Complete Prestige Recordings, Bill Kirchner states that this incorrectly credits Dolphy with playing what’s actually the baritone saxophone of George Barrow, with Dolphy’s contribution to the piece being the 2nd alto behind Nelson. Its first well-known recording was the version on Nelson’s own 1961 album The Blues and the Abstract Truth. Nelson’s solo on this version contains “possibly the most famous” use of the augmented scale in jazz.

Singer Mark Murphy wrote lyrics for his 1978 version.

Ann Fischer later wrote different lyrics to Nelson’s original melody. They were first recorded on the 1987 album The Carmen McRae-Betty Carter Duets. This vocal version of “Stolen Moments” was given the alternate title “You Belong to Her”


Oliver Nelson, himself, used the song as an album title (Inner City Records – IC 6008) in 1975. “Stolen Moments” has been recorded numerous times. In 1994 the title was used for a compilation album in the Red Hot AIDS Benefit Series, which helped popularize this and other jazz standards among a wider audience.

Some recorded versions:

  • 1966 by Booker Ervin on the album Structurally Sound
  • 1968 by Phil Woods and his European Rhythm Machine on the album Americans Swinging in Paris
  • 1970 by Ahmad Jamal, album The Awakening
  • 1975 by Oliver Nelson, album Stolen Moments
  • 1978 by Mark Murphy, album Stolen Moments
  • 1979 by Jimmy Raney and Doug Raney, a father and son jazz guitar duo, album Stolen Moments
  • 1988 by Frank Zappa on the album Broadway the Hard Way (trumpet solo by Walt Fowler); after the trumpet solo, Zappa invites Sting to sit in with the band, and he sings a unique, modified version of the Police song “Murder by Numbers” over the “Stolen Moments” vamp. The band finishes by returning to the Nelson melody.
  • 1990 by Lee Ritenour, album Stolen Moments
  • 1991 by Stanley Jordan, album Stolen Moments
  • 1991 by New York Voices on the album Heart of Fire.
  • 1994 by United Future Organization on the compilation album Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool
  • 1996 by Jimmy Smith on the album Angel Eyes
  • 2002 by Kenny Burrell, album Stolen Moments
  • 2003 by Gap Mangione, album Stolen Moments
  • 2005 by Telefon Tel Aviv, album Remixes Compiled
  • 2009 by Brownman Electryc Trio, album Juggernaut

Other artists that have recorded the piece: Ray Brown, Caribbean Jazz Project, Betty Carter, Sonny Criss, Joyce DiCamillo, Booker Ervin, Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, J. J. Johnson, Quincy Jones, Oliver Lake, Andy LaVerne, Lorne Lofsky, Herbie Mann, Jon Mayer, Carmen McRae, One for All, Hilton Ruiz, Andy Summers, Bill Taylor, Turtle Island String Quartet, Sadao Watanabe,Grover Washington, Jr., Snakefinger, Avi Lebovich & The Orchestra, Soil & “Pimp” Sessions, Fancie, Brownman Ali.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  1. “Stolen Moments” is a jazz standard composed by Oliver Nelson . It is a sixteen-bar piece (in an eight-six-two pattern), though the solos are on a conventional minor key 12 bar blues structure.

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