28 July 2009

George Russell

George Russell (r) with John Coltrane, via GeorgeRussell.com

Sad news this morning as the pianist, educator, and music theorist George Russell died Monday from complications from Alzheimer's disease. Russell's treatise on modal improvisation, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, published in 1953, provided the theoretical basis for the modal jazz of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. While he is perhaps best known for The Lydian Chromatic Concept, he was an important composer and musician in his own right, having written the Dizzy Gillespie classic Cubana Be Cubana Bop and led countless bands himself. If you have not checked out Ezz-Thetics, his 1961 album featuring Don Ellis, Eric Dolphy, and Steve Swallow, then do yourself a favor and buy it now.

Below is some audio and video of Russell for your listening pleasure...

The Jazz Video Guy brings us an an excerpt from the 1958 tv program, "The Subject is Jazz," featuring George Russell's composition and arrangement, "Stratusphunk," with Bill Evans on piano, Art Farmer, trumpet, Jimmy Cleveland, trombone, Gene Quill, alto, Ed Thigpen, drums:

An excerpt of Dizzy Gillespie's big band playing Cubano Be Cubano Bop in 1947:

Cubana Be - Dizzy Gillespie

George Russell discusses the music of Ornette Coleman with Coleman and Robert Palmer:

Also no longer with us is Merce Cunningham, the modernist choreographer. Be sure to read Ethan Iverson's brief remembrance, you'll be glad you did.

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