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ARTIST PROFILES

In Memoriam: George Russell 1923-2009

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George was such an inspiration to all of us in his sextet. He encouraged us to go beyond our limitations by introducing and suggesting fresh new concepts. As band members (students) he gave us the encouragement we needed to go further and deeper into our musical improvisations. Playing in his band was a turning point in my drumming because of his encouragement and trust in my ability. George was a good drummer himself so he knew what he wanted, but he always fostered my individuality rather than telling me to play this way or that. His ...

HIGHLY OPINIONATED

Why George Russell Will Always Live in Time

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A measure of just how underrated a musician he was in his lifetime is reflected in the fact that even three days after he passed on most of the major publications had not even reported his death, much less celebrated his life in the glowing terms that he so richly deserved. Perhaps this was because oddly enough he may have spent a lifetime mostly in the quietude of musical intellectualism rather than in its practice. That is, after all how most may ultimately remember George Russell, born June 23, 1923--died July 27, 2009. He did author the most important work ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Russell Sextet: Ezz-Thetics

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A post-war masterpiece, Ezz-Thetics is pianist/arranger George Russell's definitive 1961 sextet recording from the earliest phase of his multi-decade career. On par with such iconic albums as Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse!, 1961), Mal Waldron's The Quest (Riverside, 1961) and Andrew Hill's Point of Departure (Blue Note, 1964), Ezz-Thetics traffics in the same advanced but accessible strain of avant-garde-influenced post-bop.

Author of The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization (pub. 1953), Russell's seminal concepts of improvisation, based on scales rather than chords, became the driving force behind the early modal explorations of Miles Davis and ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

George Russell And The Living Time Orchestra: 80th Birthday Concert

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George Russell And The Living Time Orchestra 80th Birthday Concert Concept Publishing 2005

Now and then in recent years, George Russell (born 1923) has attacked what he considers backward-looking tendencies in the playing of younger jazzmen. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra was among those who fell under grave suspicion. Yet there's not much difference between the music on 80th Birthday Concert and Wynton Marsalis' arrangement of “A Love Supreme" for LCJO.

Russell, though always sympathetic to new things, has never himself set out to be modish--but he's never sounded dated. He can't have considered ...

ARTIST PROFILES

George Russell

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By Ed Hazell At 83, George Russell moves a little slower than he used to and his voice, which has never lost its Midwestern twang, is softer. But his eyes have not lost their amused, intelligent twinkle and he has never lost his passion for making music.“My aim at this point is to understand the language of music in its deepest sense and contribute to it, enrich it," he said one evening recently, sitting at the kitchen table of his home on a quiet side street in Jamaica Plain, a Boston neighborhood. “Music as a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Russell & The Living Time Orchestra: The 80th Birthday Concert

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George Russell celebrated his 80th birthday in 2003, touring Europe with the Living Time Orchestra, and being well and truly appreciated, as indeed he should. Apart from his Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, Russell has made several important recordings that are part of jazz history. In doing so he has translated theory into the vivid three-dimensional imagery that has been captured in his music.

The music still captures the imagination. It runs the gamut of several idioms, each of which fits into the other, the whole a marvel in shape and design, in the depth of its ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Russell: Ezz-Thetics

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It is not often that a CD is utterly captivating from the first few measures upon first listening. Some recordings capture so accurately a period of music and are so spontaneously perfect that their listeners are enthralled from start to finish, much like children on Christmas morning. Ezz-Thetics is such a CD, in the company of watermarks like Kind of Blue and The Blues and the Abstract Truth ; this is no overstatement.

1961 saw the first signs of acceptance of the new music being dubbed “avant-garde" or “The New Thing" -- Eric Dolphy's stint at the Five Spot, Coltrane's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Russell: George Russell Sextet at the Five Spot

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George Russell, like Lennie Tristano, is one of the unsung prophets of modern jazz. The theoretical innovations for which he has become known are suffused throughout this early small group session, released in 1960 by Decca and now reissued by Verve. Although it’s billed as a live record, the reissue essay by Kirk Silsbee lets the cat out of the bag: Russell (on piano) and his sextet made the album in the studio following a three-week stint at the Five Spot, so the title is figurative, not literal. Except for trombonist David Baker and bassist Chuck Israels, the players are ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Russell (: George Russell Sextet At The Five Spot

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Conceptualist and composer George Russell’s place in jazz history has always been a bit tenuous at best. Few really understand the implications of his Lydian Chromatic concept and up until now very few of his early recorded masterpieces have been available to all but the most diehard of vinyl collectors. Following the seminal 1957 Jazz Workshop album for RCA Victor, Russell would jump ship for the popular Decca label where he would cut another four neglected gems. Near the end of this period, Russell formed an important sextet of talented youngsters, took the group into New York’s Five Spot, and ...



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