Russell's last Riverside
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 11/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is the last George Russell made for the Riverside label before relocating to Europe. It thus marks something of a break in his career: in later work he was to delve into electronics & jazz-rock, but this album rounds off the series of exploratory small-group sessions he cut for the label, each featuring an exciting mixture of hot soloists & sophisticated arrangements.The album opens with a polytonal arrangement of Parker's "Au Privave"; this was a favourite strategy (cf. "Sippin' at Bells" on the _Live at the Five Spot_ disc), & is an extension of the bebop practice of the unison statement of heads. (Such a polytonal approach is audible even in some non-avantgarde recordings: listen to "Bag's Groove" on Milt Jackson's _Opus de Jazz_, or "Children of the Night" on Art Blakey's _Mosaic_.) As on "Honesty" on Russell's _Ezz-thetics_ or "The Outer View" on this disc, the soloists' slots are split between a free-time section and a straightahead swing section. The horns--the fine Don Ellis on trumpet, and the lesser-known Garnett Brown (trombone) and Paul Plummer (saxophone)--all find something interesting to say.There's another short piece--Carla Bley's charming "Zig-Zag"--& then three long set-pieces. "The Outer View" is more-or-less of a piece with the first two (& is accompanied by a welcome alternate take): it has some of the most exciting playing on the date. "You Are My Sunshine" & "D.C. Divertimento" are more arranged, indeed through-composed; "Sunshine" is the stand-out, & the album's most famous track, climaxing on the young Sheila Jordan's bluesy & bold rendition of the lyric. It's a powerful performance, & is the main reason to get this album.Aside from "Sunshine" this is not quite among the first rank of Russell albums--I'd name _Jazz in the Space Age_, the Jazz Workshop disc & _Ezz-Thetics_ as his best, perhaps, along with "Lydian M-1" on the Teddy Charles Tentet disc & "All About Rosie" on _The Birth of the Third Stream_. But it's nonetheless worth getting, primarily for "You Are My Sunshine"."
Typically Brilliant George Russell
Andrzej Grutza | San Francisco, CA USA | 09/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The great composer/pianist George Russell builds on his illustrious past with this 1962 recording. A player who has recorded with luminaries like Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans and Art Farmer is joined on this one by a young Don Ellis on trumpet, Pete LaRoca on drums, trombonist Garnett Brown, tenor player Paul Plummer and 21 year-old bassist Steve Swallow. In addition, the band is joined on one track with what I believe is Sheila Jordan's debut recording, a truly bizarre take on "You Are My Sunshine". Russell does two originals, a cooking "The Outer View" and the pleasantly odd "D.C. Divertimento." Bird's "Au Privave" is given a facelift. George Russell has the distinction of sounding both familiar and alien. Yet another brilliant outing from the always underrated Russell."