Nelson has played in numerous jazz ensembles and jazz combos over the years. For three years, he was the pianist for Ball State University's Jazz Lab Ensemble, under Mark Buselli, with whom he participated in a tour of Europe in 2015. As a member of the Ball State's Jazz Lab Ensemble, Nelson has performed with guest artists, Scott Wendholt, Jeff Rupert, Danny Walsh, and Byron Stripling. He has performed with the Sun Prairie Jazz Ensemble in the Rose Theatre and the Allen Room at Lincoln Center, in New York City with Victor Goines and Marcus Printup. Additionally he received an award for exemplary playing from renowned trumpet player, Wynton Marsalis, in Avery Fisher Hall.