Wednesday, February 1, 2017

George Russell - 1971 - The Essence Of George Russell

George Russell 
The Essence Of George Russell

01. Electronic Sonata For Souls Loved By Nature (Part I) 15:48
02. Electronic Sonata For Souls Loved By Nature (Part II) 17:03
03. Electronic Sonata For Souls Loved By Nature (Part III) 27:45
04. Now And Then 14:07

Alto Saxophone, Clarinet – Arne Domnérus (tracks: A to C)
Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Erik Nilsson (tracks: A to C)
Bass – Arild Andersen, Georg Riedel
Congas – Sabu Martinez (tracks: A to C)
Drums – Egil Johansen (tracks: A to C), Jon Christensen (tracks: A to C)
Electric Guitar – Terje Rypdahl (tracks: A to C)
Guitar – Rune Gustafsson (tracks: A to C)
Piano – Bengt Hallberg (tracks: A to C)
Piano, Conductor – George Russell (tracks: A to C)
Producer – George Russell
Tenor Saxophone – Jan Garbarek (tracks: A to C)
Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – Claes Rosendahl (tracks: A to C)
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Lennart Åberg (tracks: A to C)
Trombone [Bass] – Olle Lind (tracks: A to C)
Trumpet – Bertil Lövgren (tracks: A to C), Jan Allan (tracks: A to C), Lars Samuelsson (tracks: A to C), Maffy Falay (tracks: A to C)
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Stanton Davis (tracks: A to C)
Vibraphone, Xylophone – Berndt Egerbladh (tracks: A to C)

Alto Saxophone – Christer Boustedt, Claes Rosendahl
Baritone Saxophone – Erik Nilsson
Bass – Roman Dylag
Congas – Rupert Clemendore
Drums – Jon Christensen
Electric Guitar – Rune Gustafsson
Piano – George Russell
Tenor Saxophone – Bernt Rosengren, Jan Garbarek
Trombone – Georg Vernon, Gunnar Medberg
Trombone [Bass] – Runo Ericksson
Trumpet – Bertil Lövgren, Jan Allan, Palle Boldtvig, Palle Mikkelborg

Originally issued on the Norwegian Sonet label in 1971 and later re-released on Soul Note (without "Concerto for Self-Accompanied Guitar"), The Essence Of... contained George Russell's first large-scale work to incorporate electronic elements from contemporary classical music as well as an emerging influence of modern rock. "Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature" is a massive work in which a jazz big band made up of many of the period's finest Scandinavian musicians serves as the backing orchestra for the very youthful Jan Garbarek quartet with guitarist Terje Rypdal, bassist Arild Andersen, and drummer Jon Christensen. A fairly abstract tape made up of moody, organy sounds is generally running in the background, sometimes predominating when the orchestra subsides. Otherwise, the composition progresses from theme to theme, many of them propulsive and groove-oriented, serving as platforms for improvisations from the featured players. Listeners who only know Garbarek from his later, substantially more placid work for ECM may be taken aback at the ferocity and swagger on display here, his roots in Albert Ayler very apparent. Rypdal and American trumpeter Stanton Davis are also shown to good effect, the former taking several blistering solos comparable to Sonny Sharrock's work from around the same time. If there's a problem, it's that Russell's attempts at a prescient kind of jazz-rock hybrid sometimes result in melodies that plod a little instead of dance, a common fate among jazz composers who never quite grasped what made rock so exciting in the mid-'60s. Additionally, the work (here heard in a live performance) is really a string of themes and not so much an organic whole, but these quibbles aside, it still stands up as a striking and forward-looking composition. "Concerto for Self-Accompanied Guitar," here performed by Rene Gustafsson overdubbing himself, is a lovely work, with hints of Gaelic folk music in an odd combination with Russell's patented Lydian mode jazz. "Now and Then," recorded a couple of years prior to the other pieces, is more along the lines of Russell's previous work, especially as heard on his At Beethoven Hall [Live] recording: good, rambunctious big band jazz. On the whole, highly recommended.

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