[JPL] Eric Jackson/George Russell
jaejazz at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 19 17:10:21 EDT 2006
Eric, it's interesting that you brought up George Russell. Three of my favorite jazz recordings are - "The Stratus Seekers" - "Ezz-thetics" and "Stratusphunk." Neither of which I've seen as a re-issue. That's not to say they haven't been but I haven't seen them. Russell could be put in that genius category. His Lydian Concepts help re-shape how musicians approached improvisation and writing. Sadly he suffered severe illness through most of his life and spent several months in a Bronx hospital in the 40's....this is important because it was during this stay he formulated his now innovative Lydian Chromatic concept.
It reads like a who's who of musicians that performed with his creative and thought provoking big band......Trane, Farmer, P. Woods, Evans, Max Roach, Al Cohn and many, many more. One of the things that always intrigued me about him was the fact that drums was his first instrument - not piano but piano became the focus later. In fact when he moved to NYC Bird wanted him to play in his group. It was interesting in that considering he was a pianist he used Bill Evans. I think this was because Bill studied his concepts and could apply them to his music and Russell could focus on composition and directing. In some ways similar to how Ellington saw Strayhorn.
Even more importantly, some believe that Russell was the first to incorporate American Jazz with and Afro Cuban rhythms in a big band concept. Many credit Dizzy with this innovation but perhaps they were referring to the smaller ensembles and this work preceded Russell's "Cubano" Suite. If I remember correctly, "Cubano Be-Cubano Bop" was Russell's composition performed by Dizzy's band at Carnegie Hall in the mid to late forties.
Personally I don't think history - outside of musicians circles - has been kind to him.
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