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Precious Time (feat. Michael B Nelson) The Time Thief blog #7

Michael B Nelson
Trombonist Michael B Nelson (The Hornheads, NPG, Cory Wong and the Wongnotes)

Precious Time (feat. Michael B Nelson)

‘Precious Time’ features trombonist Michael B Nelson (Cory Wong and the Wongnotes, NGP) who arranged and recorded the horns in Minneapolis.

The Time Thief blog #7

‘Precious Time’ is the tune that follows the keyboard feature ‘Precious Time (The Lament)’ on ‘The Time Thief’ album. I had great fun writing this one. Ultimately I’m hoping that your ears will find my experiments with multiple time-feels and tempos interesting as well as stimulating.

If you are interested in the background story on how it came to the ‘Precious Time’ concept – Read HERE.

In this blog I want to focus on the music itself and how it came together. I have been a huge fan of Michael B Nelson‘s trombone playing, his arrangements and his octane five piece horn section ‘The Hornheads‘. Finally I had the pleasure to feature Michael on trombone and his powerhouse horn section.

In the the broadest sense ‘Precious Time’ is based on a minor Blues and features ‘older’ type harmonies (for the musically interested – heaps of diminished chords), interspersed with the obligatory Funkestra four bar Funk vamp. I love the ‘trading’ between master trumpeteers Sid Gauld on flugelhorn and Dave Jensen on muted trumpet (the ‘Miles sound’).

Customarily the melodies of Funkestra tunes fall to the horns but for this one I wanted to additionally feature a simple bass melody in unison with the lower horns, i.e. bari sax and trombone with very little accompaniment to give the ‘head’ a sparse and ‘heavy’ feel.

Time-feel explanation

Note: skip this paragraph if you don’t need to know a whole bunch of technical jargon about the track;)
It was great fun to all changing between half-time and regular time as well as mixing up ‘straight’ eighth notes, sixteenth notes and implying eighth note triplets and even quarter note triplets – this, from an intellectual point, is a further vindication of the title ‘Precious Time‘ – as throughout we are playing with time from a musical standpoint.

Michael B Nelson’s trombone solo

One of the highlights is Michael’s mind boggling trombone solo – he really takes us through our paces here – I particularly enjoy the start of the ‘bone’ solo with just drums, Hammond organ (Dave Limina is showcasing his formidable organ trio chops without me getting in the way in the bottom end) and the gradual development with the whole band going at full pelt – Michael simply flying on top of it all.

The ‘Latin’ sounding horn feature after this breakdown has also come out of the super creative brain of Michael and got me very excited. I basically said to Michael that he either could solo himself or write a ‘Hornheads’ ensemble ‘solo’ – when I listened to the first time to this section (as it was new to me) it really felt like Christmas and Hanukka [and any other major celebration] coming early:-)

The horn section sound

Also, you might wonder about the unusual sound of the hornsection – Rupert Christie (the recording and mixing engineer) and myself had great fun experimenting with finding a sound that might conjure the feeling of an old Gramophone record – as the loose topic is ‘time’ and I wanted the horn section to sound as if they were lifted from an 1920s Shellac recording.


I’m fully aware that there is a lot of thought and intellectualizing that went into this tune – ultimately, even without knowing any of this, my hope is that you are going to enjoy this piece of music simply for what it is. To my ears an exciting and enjoyable journey with time.

Where to listen/download?

Get ‘The Time Thief’ here:

Funkestra store (download + CD)
Apple iTunes UK (sample + download)
Bandcamp (streaming + download)
Amazon US (sample, download + CD)
CD Baby (sample, download + CD)

Precious Time [artwork by Julian Black]
Precious Time [artwork by Julian Black]