Sunday, January 23, 2011

Arranger/composer special pt.2: George Russel and Oliver Nelson

A second installment of the (jazz) arranger/composer special. The first one was about arrangers working to the strengths of a specific performer. These two are more about the composition; it's the performers that come to play with the mastermind.

George Russell is the mastermind behind the first album. He passed away in mid-2009; here's a well-written obituary detailing his accomplishments. While not a household name, Russell was very influential among his contemporaries. Many (including Miles Davis) point to his theoretical work as a cornerstone of the modal jazz. His book, Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, is legendary among the jazz musicians - among other things, for being so densely written as to be nearly unreadable. The excellent Casa Valdez Studios has a discussion of his theories - see if you can make more sense of it than I did.
Russell had no trouble assembling an all-star cast for his albums; this one is the first he recorded under his own name and it has Art Farmer on trumpet (again!) and Bill Evans on piano. Don Ellis and Eric Dolphy play on his next, Ezz-thetics, possibly even more fascinating, although somewhat less accessible album.

George Russell - The Jazz Workshop [1956]
With Art Farmer, Bill Evans, Paul Motian, and others.
256kbps, 103mb on depositfiles
1. Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub
2. Jack's Blues
3. Livingstone I Presume
4. Ezz-thetic
5. Night Sound
6. Round Johnny Rondo
7. Fellow Delegates
8. Witch Hunt
9. The Sad Sergeant
10. Knights Of The Steamtable
11. Ballad Of Hix Blewitt
12. Concerto For Billy The Kid
13. Ballad Of Hix Blewitt (Alternate Take)
14. Concerto For Billy The Kid (Alternate Take)

Another album that fits the arranger/composer theme is Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth. It is probably the best-known of all of the above, and also well-represented in the share-o-sphere, so I will leech the links instead of uploading it.
Read a review: a landmark of jazz orchestration, one of the most potent modern jazz sextets ever (Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans)

Oliver Nelson - The Blues and the Abstract Truth ()
Three links here or get it on rapidshare or mediafire; also available in FLAC
01. Stolen Moments
02. Hoe-Down
03. Cascades
04. Yeanin’
05. Butch and Butch
06. Teenie’s Blues
Alternative artwork:


  1. It was news to me that Paul Motian is that old - I thought he appeared in 70s. But 1956! Wow.

  2. He was in the original Bill Evans Trio with Scott La Faro. I wonder if they met at the sessions for the George Russell album...

  3. My name is Geoff and I represent, a virtual concert hall and the biggest searchable collection of classical music on the Internet.

    All our performances are either uploaded by professional musicians or sent to us by those who own legal rights for those performances. We feature over 2000 performances of classical music masterpieces and that number is constantly growing.

    I came across your site and thought you might be interested in either exchanging links, or finding some other mutually beneficial opportunities. I am open to your suggestions and look forward to your reply.

    Best Regards,
    Business Development