Jazziz magazine writes that Nelson Rangell is "an artist of depth, a master of song, and an improviser non pareil." The Times of London notes "his extraordinary facility on a range of instruments" and Rangell's "considerable crowd pleasing power". Saxophone Journal writes "He commands the alto saxophone with such authority there can be no denying that Rangell is a true artist," and Flute Talk Magazine states "Nelson Rangell creates the impression that anything is possible when he improvises." Such praise is a confirmation of what contemporary jazz fans have known since the Denver based saxophonist emerged in the late 80s: that Rangell is one of the most exciting and diverse performers in the genre, equally adept at soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone, as well as being a genuine virtuoso on flute and piccolo.
Nelson Rangell is the fourth child in a musical family. His brother, Andrew, is a well known concert pianist living in Boston; his brother, Bobby, lives in Paris and is a leading woodwind player in European jazz and studio scenes. His sister, Paula, is a professional singer living in New Orleans.
Rangell first played flute at the age of 15. Within months he was studying both classical and jazz music at The Interlochen Arts Academy, a national camp for gifted music students. He went on to attend The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. As a student he twice won Down Beat Magazine's prestigious National Student Recording Awards competition both as best jazz and best pop/rock instrumental soloist. After college he headed to New York in 1984 to pursue his career.