Search - George Russell :: At the Five Spot

At the Five Spot
George Russell
At the Five Spot
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1

Composer-pianist George Russell literally wrote the book on chords and modes, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, a theoretical text on harmonic organization that has had untold effect on jazz since the 195...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: George Russell
Title: At the Five Spot
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Verve
Original Release Date: 1/1/1960
Re-Release Date: 9/19/2000
Album Type: Limited Edition, Original recording remastered, Live
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 008811228729, 0008811228729

Composer-pianist George Russell literally wrote the book on chords and modes, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, a theoretical text on harmonic organization that has had untold effect on jazz since the 1950s. He's also been a notable composer since first writing for Dizzy Gillespie's big band in the '40s, but he didn't lead a working band until 1960, when he formed the sextet heard here. It's an energetic meeting of a visionary musician and a group of vigorous and enthusiastic younger players, including bassist Chuck Israels and a coterie of Russell's students: trombonist Dave Baker, trumpeter Al Kiger, tenor saxophonist Dave Young, and drummer Joe Hunt. "Swingdom Come" is the only Russell original here, but his distinctive polytonal arranging style and very free, often dissonant piano playing immediately mark the music as his, a combination of hard-bop swing and precision combined with polyrhythms and a fresh tonal language. He's pressing the young soloists to move beyond their models, and the results are an important chapter in the emergence of the 1960s avant-garde. The set includes two of the earliest recorded Carla Bley compositions, the tempo-shifting "Dance Class" with a Dolphy-like melodic line and the slow and eerie "Beast Blues." Miles Davis's bop period "Sippin' at Bells" gains some collective improvisation before it's done, while Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" adapts handily to the Russell treatment. Despite the title, this isn't a "live" recording. It was made in a New York studio after the group's debut at the Five Spot. --Stuart Broomer

CD Reviews

A chance for an underground classic
James W. Goetsch | Studio City, CA. USA | 10/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a chance to pick up one of the most rare George Russell releases. This is a sextet date that features a group that includes students from his legendary Lennox School days. One of the students here, David Baker, ended up being a leading jazz educator himself.Russell's sextet records from the early to mid '60s feature a level of creativity that is almost unmatched to this day in the jazz world. Forget the usual melody-solos-melody routine, all of his work from the era has tightly focused yet intricate compostion that merits and rewards repeated listening. He always finds soloists with unique voices to light up the improvisational sections, as you will find here. So here's a rare chance to pick up some great work from an artist that still has not had anywhere near the recognition he deserves."
Challenging small-group music
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 10/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is the least-known of Russell's early discs, one of three he recorded for Decca before his move to Riverside. It's not as important a disc as the monumental _Jazz in the Space Age_, a big band record centred on the piano duo of Paul Bley and Bill Evans, a date which remains one of the greatest of postwar jazz recordings. Yet the Five Spot disc is a fine record on its own merits: none of the players except for the bassist Chuck Israels went on to become a well-known instrumentalist, but the young players here are all superlative & full of personality: Al Kiger on trumpet, David Young on alto, Dave Baker on trombone (he's since become a cellist & noted composer & educator); & the very swinging Joe Hunt on drums (whatever happened to him??). Russell's "arranger's piano" is actually very accomplished, his comping containing chordal shapes that must have been a constant challenge to the soloists.The tunes here are mostly sophisticated variants on the blues, including a memorable polytonal arrangement of Miles Davis's "Sipping at Bells". (It's rarely been noted that the blues was always a strong component of Russell's thinking: virtually all his early discs have a blues, such as the superb "Honesty" on _Ezz-Thetic_, or the radically altered version of "Au Privave" on _The Outer View_, or the title-track of _Stratusphunk_. & let's not forget Russell's latterday fondness for "So What", which he's recorded now a few times.) The performances are all very tight, and the disc ends on a fiery "Moment's Notice", where player's solo climaxes on a breakneck stoptime chorus. -- A fine disc: those who pick it up (perhaps tempted by the knowledge it's in only a limited-edition release) will not be disappointed, & will want to hunt down the other Russell discs from this period."