Reader's Notes - PN 2.12 - George Russell

With the recent death of jazz composer, teacher, and MacArthur fellow George Russell, there's been a great deal of lazy linking in the blogosphere, but here's the skinny: Russell's theoretical contribution is a concept of organization that paved the way for the modal style of music most prominently featured on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. You also hear modal playing in much of the work of John Coltrane as he moved away from bebop, for instance, in his number "Impressions" and his reworking of Rogers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things."

Over at NPR's A Blog Supreme, there's a decent tribute to Russell as well as a video from jazz guy Brett Primrack.

All About Jazz has a very detailed obituary on Russell, and you would do well to check out the man's own web page, as well as his Wikipedia entry.

Many years ago, I finally bought Ezz-thetics after my friends at WDNA kept telling me about Russell. Although here and there I'd heard the name and seen a writing credit ("Cubano Be/Cubano Bop"), I suppose that because he lacked the star power of Miles or Coltrane, I remained plainly ignorant of how important and interesting Russell's work was. I was truly blown away by the album's third track, "The Lydiot," and always made a point of playing something from George Russell every few weeks. I had joined that club, I suppose. I invite you to do the same.

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