The Blues and the Abstract Truth is a jazz album by Oliver Nelson recorded in February 1961. It remains Nelson's most acclaimed album. It features a lineup of notable musicians: Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy (his last appearance on a Nelson album following a series of collaborations recorded for Prestige), Bill Evans (his only appearance with Nelson), Paul Chambers and Roy Haynes. Baritone saxophonist George Barrow does not take a solo but is a key feature of the subtle voicings of Nelson's arrangements.
The album is an exploration of the mood and structure of the blues, though only some of the tracks are in conventional 12-bar blues form. In this regard, though it is not modal jazz, it may be seen as a continuation of the trend towards greater harmonic simplicity and subtlety via reimagined versions of the blues that was instigated by Miles Davis's Kind of Blue in 1959 (Evans and Chambers played on both albums). Of the pieces on Nelson's album, "Stolen Moments" is the most famous; it is a sixteen-bar piece (in an eight-six-two pattern), though the solos are on a conventional 12-bar minor-key blues structure in C minor. "Hoe-Down" is built on a forty-four-bar structure (with thirty-two-bar solos based on "rhythm changes"). "Cascades" modifies the traditional 32-bar AABA form by using a 16-bar minor blues for the A section, stretching the form to a total of 56 bars. The B-side of the album contains three tracks that hew closer to 12-bar form: "Yearnin'", "Butch and Butch" and "Teenie's Blues".