Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
After World War II, a number of ambitious young jazz composer-arrangers settled in New York. These men (Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, George Russell and John Carisi) sought to expand the musical forms and colors available to jazz composers. (Only Duke Ellington had previously explored such territory).
All of these musicians have since had unusual careers, but none so much as Russell. After writing several memorable pieces in the late '40s Russell conceived the Lydian Concept of Tonal Organization, which John Lewis called "the most profound theoretical contribution to come from jazz."
Russell went on to record several important albums of his music during the '50s and early '60s. He spent much of the late '60s in Europe, returning to this country early in the present decade to teach at the New England Conservatory of Music. Recently, he assembled a big band in New York that has received considerable acclaim.
The 14-piece Russell orchestra appeared Saturday and Sunday night in Ft. Dupont Park. Presenting a set program on both evenings, Russell showcased some of his best work of the last 20 years.
The older Russell peices tended to be the most impressive. These included his 1957 tripartile classic, "All About Rosie," and his 1958 "Big City Blues." In these Russell's unique harmonic conception and intricate ensemble lines were the main attraction. The band also performed a raucous exerpt from Russell's 1972 "Living Time" and a rock-based "Listen to the Silence." Billie holiday's "God Bless the Child," featuring vocalist Lee Genesis, was a crowd-pleaser but an artistic low point of the program.
The Russell band, though most impressive as an ensemble, has several excellent soloists, including trumpeters Terumasa Hino and Stanton Davis; saxophonists Ricky Ford, Roger Rosenberg and Carl Atkins; and bassist Cameron Brown.