“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 cover notes 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 is actually the baritone saxophone of George Barrow, with Dolphy’s contribution to the piece being the second 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 alternative title “You Belong to Her”.
In 1975 Oliver Nelson used the song as the title track for an album (on Inner City Records: IC 6008). “Stolen Moments” has also been recorded by many other musicians. 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.
Recorded versions include:
- 1966 by Booker Ervin, album Structurally Sound
- 1968 by Phil Woods and his European Rhythm Machine, 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, album Broadway the Hard Way After the trumpet solo by Walt Fowler, Zappa invites Sting to sit in with the band, and he sings a modified version of thePolice 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, album Heart of Fire
- 1994 by United Future Organization, compilation album Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool
- 1996 by Jimmy Smith, 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 who have recorded the piece include: Ray Brown, Caribbean Jazz Project, Betty Carter, Sonny Criss, 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, Snakefinger, Soil & “Pimp” Sessions, Andy Summers,Bill Taylor, Turtle Island String Quartet, Grover Washington, Jr., and Sadao Watanabe.
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