George Russell

Album review
George Russell

George Russell

George Russell

Label: Black Saint/Soul Note
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz

George Russell’s contribution to jazz theory is so formidable that his own recordings seem to lag behind in recognition, which makes this nine-CD set of mid-career material from 1968 to 1982 all the more welcome. Russell was already an established artist with a string of ground-breaking albums behind him when, in the late 60s and early 70s, he stirred things up with some young and as-yet unknown European musicians— saxophonist Jan Garbarek and guitarist Terje Rypdal among them—whose role in shaping a strong musical identity for Scandinavian jazz began under Russell’s tutelage. This collection documents that period as well as his return to teach at the New England Conservatory of Music. The centerpiece here is the three live recordings of the ground-breaking “Electric Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature.” Other highlights include the brooding Othello Ballet Suite, a scorching version of Ornette Coleman’s “Man on the Moon” with a wonderfully bizarre solo by Rypdal, and “Cubano Be, Cubano Bop,” which Russell wrote and Dizzy Gillespie in recorded 1947. When Russell yelled “Play like Trane!” at his sidemen he was referring not to technique but to their intensity level, and there’s plenty of evidence here that his protégés paid heed.

More Info

  • primary artist, George Russell
  • CD

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