top of page

"One of the most extraordinary musicians in jazz...his solo on Monk’s “Trinkle Tinkle” made you not want to breathe until it was done." – Ben Ratliff

Acknowledged as "...the most completely realized and original performer on the vibraphone," Steve Nelson is one of the most highly regarded vibraphonists of his generation. Recognized for his inventive and fluidly harmonic approach, Steve began his career following the path blazed by his first major influence, Milt Jackson. After a college stint with guitarist Grant Green, Nelson performed and recorded with James Spaulding and Kenny Barron, before landing a spot in David "Fathead" Newman's quintet.


Steve has been the vibist of choice among some of jazz's most iconic artists including Jonny Griffin, Jackie McLean, Bobby Watson, Curtis Lundy, James Williams, and Lewis Nash. Steve is a veteran member of Dave Holland's acclaimed quintet and Big Band, George Shearing Quintet, and was a friend and frequent collaborator with Mulgrew Miller on his Wingspan sextet. Expressing his admiration for Miller, Steve says, "The thing that really stood out for me was his honesty in music...We had many of the same goals and ideas about taking the foundation of jazz and then advancing it." Steve continues to tour and record with Donald Brown, Renee Rosnes, Geoffrey Keezer and Jeremy Pelt, among others.

Widely acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent modernist vibraphone improvisors. Steve has appeared on numerous recordings, and at concerts and festivals worldwide including the Newport Jazz Festival, The Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreal International Jazz Festival, and the Netherlands International Jazz Festival to name just a few.  His original releases include Full NelsonFuller NelsonBrothers Under the SunCommunications, Sound Effects and more. He is a dedicated educator with prior positions at Princeton University, William Paterson University, and Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Steve is a 2021 Doris Duke Charitable Foundation supported New Jazz Works commissioned composer.

bottom of page