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date: 21 August 2019

Russell, George (Allan)locked

  • James G. Roy Jr
  • , revised by Carman Moore
  •  and J. Bradford Robinson

Extract

(Allan)

(b Cincinnati, June 23, 1923; d Boston, July 27, 2009). American jazz composer and theorist. He played the drums in local clubs while a student at Wilberforce University High School. During a long illness in 1945–6 he formulated the basis of his ‘Lydian concept’, a system of composition based on grading intervals by the distance of their pitches from a central note. After his recovery he wrote scores for Dizzy Gillespie, including Cubana Be/Cubana Bop (one of the earliest works to combine jazz and Latin influences), and for Buddy DeFranco (A Bird in Igor’s Yard) and Lee Konitz (Ezz-thetic and Odjenar); meanwhile he also studied composition with Stefan Wolpe. From 1950 he consolidated and refined his ideas on music theory, publishing them as The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization (1953, 2/1959), which was immediately received as the first major contribution by a jazz musician to the field of music theory. Works followed on an increasingly large scale, establishing Russell, along with Gil Evans, as a leading postwar jazz composer; he combined advanced jazz idioms with an unusually rigorous concern for structure, harmony, and the balance between composition and improvisation. In ...

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