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Russell, George: Ezz-thetics & The Stratus Seekers, Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Essential to any collection charting the transition from Birth of the Cool era jazz to the modern explosion of harmonic and compositional forms, are pianist George Russell's two most essential albums from 1961 & 1962--Ezz-thetics and The Stratus Seekers--in a sextet & septet including Eric Dolphy, Don Elliss, Steve Swallow, &c., remastered to reveal their vital clarity.
 

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UPC: 752156113225

Label: ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd
Catalog ID: ezz-thetics 1132
Squidco Product Code: 31983

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded May 8th, 1962 (1-6), and January 31st (7-12) 1962, in New York, New York. Ezz-thetics was originally released in 1961 as a vinyl LP on the Riverside Records label as catalog code RLP 375. The Stratus Seekers was originally released in 1962 as a vinyl LP on the Riverside Records label as catalog code RLP 9412.


Personnel:

Eric Dolphy-alto saxophone, bass clarinet

Don Ellis-trumpet

David Baker-trombone

George Russell-piano

Steve Swallow-double bass

Joe Hunt-drums

Paul Plummer-tenor saxophone

John Peirce-alto saxophone

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Artist Biographies:

"Eric Allan Dolphy Jr. (June 20, 1928 - June 29, 1964) was an American jazz alto saxophonist, bass clarinetist and flautist. On a few occasions, he also played the clarinet and piccolo. Dolphy was one of several multi-instrumentalists to gain prominence in the same era. His use of the bass clarinet helped to establish the instrument within jazz. Dolphy extended the vocabulary and boundaries of the alto saxophone, and was among the earliest significant jazz flute soloists.

His improvisational style was characterized by the use of wide intervals, in addition to employing an array of extended techniques to emulate the sounds of human voices and animals. He used melodic lines that were "angular, zigzagging from interval to interval, taking hairpin turns at unexpected junctures, making dramatic leaps from the lower to the upper register." Although Dolphy's work is sometimes classified as free jazz, his compositions and solos were often rooted in conventional (if highly abstracted) tonal bebop harmony."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Dolphy)
8/10/2022

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"A talented trumpeter with a vivid musical imagination and the willingness to try new things, Don Ellis led some of the most colorful big bands of the 1965-75 period. After graduating from Boston University, Ellis played in the big bands of Ray McKinley, Charlie Barnet, and Maynard Ferguson (he was featured with the latter on "Three More Foxes"), recorded with Charles Mingus, and played with George Russell's sextet (at the same time as Eric Dolphy). Ellis led four quartet and trio sessions during 1960-1962 for Candid, New Jazz, and Pacific Jazz, mixing together bop, free jazz, and his interest in modern classical music. However it was in 1965 when he put together his first orchestra that he really started to make an impression in jazz. Ellis's big bands were distinguished by their unusual instrumentation (which in its early days had up to three bassists and three drummers including Ellis himself), the leader's desire to investigate unusual time changes (including 7/8, 9/8, and even 15/16), its occasionally wacky humor (highlighted by an excess of false endings), and an openness towards using rock rhythms and (in later years) electronics. Ellis invented the four-valve trumpet and utilized a ring modulator and all types of wild electronic devices by the late '60s. By 1971, his band consisted of an eight-piece brass section (including French horn and tuba), a four-piece woodwind section, a string quartet, and a two-drum rhythm section. A later unrecorded edition even added a vocal quartet.

AutumnAmong Don Ellis's sidemen were Glenn Ferris, Tom Scott, John Klemmer, Sam Falzone, Frank Strozier, Dave MacKay, and the brilliant pianist (straight from Bulgaria) Milcho Leviev. The orchestra's most memorable recordings were Autumn, Live at the Fillmore, and Tears of Joy (all for Columbia). After suffering a mid-'70s heart attack, Ellis returned to live performing, playing the "superbone" and a later edition of his big band featured Art Pepper. Ellis's last recording was at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival, a year before his heart finally gave out."-Scott Yanow, All Music

-All Music (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/don-ellis-mn0000180060/biography)
8/10/2022

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"David Nathaniel Baker Jr. (December 21, 1931 - March 26, 2016) was an American jazz composer, conductor, and musician from Indianapolis, as well as a professor of jazz studies at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Baker is best known as an educator and founder of the jazz studies program. From 1991 to 2012, he was conductor and musical and artistic director for the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. He has more than 65 recordings, 70 books, and 400 articles to his credit.

He received the James Smithson Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, an American Jazz Masters Award, a National Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame Award, a Sagamore of the Wabash award, and a Governor's Arts Award from the State of Indiana. Baker also held leadership positions in several arts and music associations. The Indiana Historical Society named Baker an Indiana Living Legend in 2001. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts named him a Living Jazz Legend in 2007."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Baker_(composer)#Musical_performer)
8/10/2022

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"George Russell is a hugely influential, innovative figure in the evolution of modern jazz, the music's only major theorist, one of its most profound composers, and a trail blazer whose ideas have transformed and inspired some of the greatest musicians of our time.

Russell was born in Cincinnati in 1923, the adopted son of a registered nurse and a chef on the B&O Railroad. He began playing drums with the Boy Scout Drum and Bugle Corps and eventually received a scholarship to Wilberforce University where he joined the Collegians, whose list of alumni include Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson, Ben Webster, Cootie Williams, Ernie Wilkins and Frank Foster. But his most valuable musical education came in 1941, when, in attempting to enlist in the Marines, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, spending 6 months in the hospital where he was taught the fundamentals of harmony from a fellow patient. From the hospital he sold his first work, "New World," to Benny Carter. He joined Benny Carter's Band, but was replaced by Max Roach; after Russell heard Roach, he decided to give up drumming. He moved to New York where he was part of a group of musicians who gathered in the basement apartment of Gil Evans. The circle included Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Max Roach, Johnny Carisi and on occasion, Charlie Parker. He was commissioned to write a piece for Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra; the result was the seminal "Cubano Be/Cubano Bop" the first fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz, premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1947 and featuring Chano Pozo. Two years later his "Bird in Igor's Yard" was recorded by Buddy DeFranco, a piece notable for its fusion of elements from Charlie Parker and Stravinsky.

It was a remark made by Miles Davis when George asked him his musical aim which set Russell on the course which has been his life. Miles said he "wanted to learn all the changes." Since Miles obviously knew all the changes, Russell surmised that what he meant was he wanted to learn a new way to relate to chords. This began a quest for Russell, and again hospitalized for 16 months, he began to develop his "Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization." First published in 1953, the Lydian Concept is credited with opening the way into modal music, as demonstrated by Miles in his seminal "Kind of Blue" recording. Using the Lydian Scale as the PRIMARY SCALE of Western music, the Lydian Chromatic Concept introduced the idea of chord/scale unity. It was the first theory to explore the vertical relationship between chords and scales, and was the only original theory to come from jazz. Throughout the 1950's and 60's, Russell continued to work on developing the Concept and leading bands under his direction.

In the mid-fifties, a superb sextet, including Bill Evans and Art Farmer recorded under his direction, producing "The Jazz Workshop," an album of astonishing originality; the often dense textures and rhythms anticipated the jazz-rock movement of the 1970's.

During this time, he was also working odd jobs as a counterman in a lunch spot and selling toys at Macy's at Christmas; the release of "The Jazz Workshop" put an end to Russell's jobs outside of music. He was one of a group to be commissioned to write for the first annual Brandeis Jazz Festival in 1957--"All About Rosie" was based on an Alabama children's song. "New York, New York," with poetry by Jon Hendricks and featuring Bill Evans, Max Roach, John Coltrane, Milt Hinton, Bob Brookmeyer, Art Farmer and a Who's Who of the New York jazz scene is striking in it evocation of the New York of the late fifties. From 1960, Russell began leading his own sextets around the New York area and at festivals; he also toured throughout the Midwest and Europe with his sextet. One of the important albums of this time was "Ezz-Thetic," which featured Eric Dolphy, Don Ellis and Steve Swallow.

Disillusioned by his lack of recognition and the meager work opportunities in America, he arrived in a wheel chair in Scandinavia in 1964, but returned five years later in spiritual health. In Sweden and Norway he found support for both himself and his music. All his works were recorded by radio and TV, and he was championed by Bosse Broberg, the adventurous Director of Swedish Radio, an organization with which Russell maintains a close association and admiration. While there, he heard and recorded a young Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, and Jon Christensen.

In 1969, he returned to the States at the request of his old friend, Gunther Schuller to teach at the newly created Jazz Department at the New England Conservatory where Schuller was President. He continued to develop the Lydian Concept and toured with his own groups. He played Carnegie Hall, the Village Vanguard, the Bottom Line, Newport, Wolftrap, The Smithsonian, Sweet Basil, the West Coast, the Southwest, and Europe with his 14 member orchestra. He continued to compose extended works which defined jazz composition. His 1985 recording, "The African Game, "one of the first in the revived Blue Note label, received 2 Grammy nominations. Russell has taught throughout the world, and has been guest conductor for Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, German and Italian radio.

In 1986, he was invited by the Contemporary Music Network of the British Council to tour with an orchestra of American and British musicians, which resulted in The International Living Time Orchestra, which has been touring and performing since that time. Among the soloists of stature are Stanton Davis, Dave Bargeron, Brad Hatfield, Steve Lodder, Tiger Okoshi, and Andy Sheppard. The musicians have developed a rare understanding of the music, astonishing audiences with fiery music both complex and challenging, but added to the dynamism and electric power of funk and rock. Russell himself is a tremendously visual leader, dancing and forming architectural structures with his hands.

The Living Time Orchestra has toured all over the world. Most recent projects included a performance at the Barbican Centre in London and the Cite de la Musique in Paris, augmented with string players from the U.K. and France, the Theatre Champs-Elyse´es for the Festival D'automne in Paris, the Glasgow International Festival, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Tokyo Music Joy, the Library of Congress, Festivals of Umbria, Verona, Lisbon, Milano, Pori, Bath, Huddersfield, Ravenna, Catania, North Sea, and many more.

Russell has received the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts American Jazz Master, been elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy, two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Oscar du Disque de Jazz, the Guardian Award, six NEA Music Fellowships, the American Music Award, and numerous others."

-George Russell Website (https://www.georgerussell.com/gr.html)
8/10/2022

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"Steve Swallow has long been many jazz critics' favorite electric bassist: rather than playing his instrument in a rock-oriented manner, Swallow emphasizes the high notes and, to an extent, approaches the electric bass as if it were a guitar. He originally started on piano and trumpet before settling on the acoustic bass as a teenager. Swallow joined the Paul Bley trio in 1960 and with Bley was part of an avant-garde version of the Jimmy Giuffre 3 during 1960-1962. Swallow recorded with George Russell and was a member of Art Farmer's quartet (1962-1965), Stan Getz's band (1965-1967), and an important edition of Gary Burton's quartet (1967-1970). The latter group (starting with the addition of guitarist Larry Coryell) was actually one of the first fusion groups, and it was during that time that Swallow began playing electric bass; within a few years, he stopped playing acoustic altogether. Swallow spent a few years in the early '70s living in northern California, during which time he mostly played locally. After the late '70s, he was closely associated with Carla Bley's groups, although he occasionally worked on other projects (including a reunion of the Jimmy Giuffre 3). Swallow has also proved to be a talented composer with "Eiderdown," "Falling Grace," "General Mojo's Well Laid Plan," and "Hotel Hello" among his better-known pieces. The 21st century saw the release of several Swallow sets, including Damaged in Transit (2003), Histoire Du Clochard: The Bum's Tale (2004), and an intriguing set with poet Robert Creeley, So There (2006). Hotel Hello appeared in 2007, followed by Believe in Spring, a collection of standards with Hans Ulrik and Jonas Johansen issued on the Stunt label, and Carla's Christmas Carols in 2008. In 2010, he recorded IS with trumpeter Tore Johanson for the Inner Ear label. Swallow formed We3 along with Adam Nussbaum and David Leibman; they recorded Amazing in 2011. In 2012, he and drummer Joey Barron played in Steve Kuhn's trio for the recording of Wisteria on ECM. It was a busy year for the bassist: he also recorded another duet offering, The Agnostic Chant Book, with reed and woodwind master Jonas Schoen. He led his own quintet for Into the Woodwork, which was issued on Xtra WATT, in June of 2013, and shared triple-billing with Carla Bley and Andy Sheppard on Trios, which was released in September of that year. In 2016, Swallow once again joined Bley and Sheppard for Andando el Tiempo."

-All Music, Scott Yanow (http://www.allmusic.com/artist/steve-swallow-mn0000042344/biography)
8/10/2022

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Joe Hunt is an American jazz drummer, educator, author, and historian. He is known for the groups Bert Seager Jazz Quintet, Don Friedman Trio, George Russell Septet, Rich Greenblatt Quintet, Stan Getz Quartet, Steve Rudolph Trio, Suzanne Davis Quartet, The Alex Elin Quartet, The George Russell Sextet, The New Stan Getz Quartet, Thomas Walbum Trio.

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/256554-Joe-Hunt)
8/10/2022

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Paul Plummer, died 2013, was an American saxophonist, known for the groups George Russell Septet, Paul Plummer Quartet.

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/880180-Paul-Plummer)
8/10/2022

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:


1. Ezz-thetics 8:59

2. Nardis 4:41

3. Lydiot 8:08

4. Thoughts 5:35

5. Honesty 9:03

6. Round Midnight 6:36

7. Pan-Daddy 5:01

8. The Status Seekers 6:42

9. Kige's Tune 5:51

10. Blues In Orbit 7:26

11. A Lonely Place 7:23

12. Stereophrenic 4:33
sample the album:








descriptions, reviews, &c.

"The six albums that George Russell recorded in just two years - starting with Sextet at the Five Spot in September 1960 and concluding with The Outer View in August 1962 - are pathbreaking documents that elaborated a radically restructured bridge between the Birth of the Cool and the outermost reaches of the mid-'60s avant-garde, and set fascinating precedents for subsequent composers who sought to redesign the formal parameters of jazz composition, from Andrew Hill to Henry Threadgill. Of these six, Ezz-thetics and The Stratus Seekers are the most cohesive, most adventurous, and most rewarding. The conceptual foundation that unites them is Russell's musical treatise, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization. The key word in the title is "organization."

In one sense, these albums mark the fruition of the first chapter of Russell's compositional career, which evolved from his limited albeit genre-stretching late-'40s contributions to the big bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy DeFranco, Artie Shaw, and Charlie Ventura, throughout the 1950s, as he refined the Lydian Concept and in 1956 recorded the brilliant Jazz Workshop sextet pieces for RCA. It should be recognized that unlike other jazz innovators, whether Jelly Roll Morton or Duke Ellington, Ornette Coleman or Cecil Taylor, Russell was not an instrumentalist per se, that is, although he began his career as a percussionist and later on developed enough skill to play what he acknowledged to be "arranger's piano" a la Tadd Dameron or Gil Evans, rather than coming from an improvisational basis his focus could be described as a direct compositional perspective. The seeds of his theories about the reconsideration of chords along the linear progress of scales were planted while interacting with the group of musicians who created the Birth of the Cool sensibility - Miles Davis, Gil Evans, John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan, and John Carisi among them. But at the same time a crucial component of Russell's development involved his six-month study with the modernist classical composer Stefan Wolpe, which helped him formulate a personal approach to such organizational principles as multiple simultaneous harmonies ("pan-tonality") and contrasting simultaneous rhythms.

Four years after the Jazz Workshop release, these organizing principles were able to be expanded and put into practice when Russell began working with a group of talented, open-minded young musicians from Indiana led by David Baker, who attended the Lenox School of Music in Massachusetts in 1959, where Russell was teaching. Trumpeter Al Kiger and tenor saxophonist Dave Young left before Ezz-thetics was recorded in May 1961, but trombonist Baker and drummer Joe Hunt remained. Separately, Don Ellis had joined the band three months earlier, and he recommended bassist Steve Swallow. The presence of Eric Dolphy here, a one-time studio-only opportunity, came when he heard the band play at the Five Spot club, and afterwards visited Russell to discuss their shared ideas of extended harmonic possibilities.

Outside of the exhilarating playing of Dolphy (whose feature, "'Round Midnight," has come to be considered a classic performance), it is David Baker who on both albums provides the most surprising, dramatic, expressive solos, as well as two compositions which reflect Russell's principles of alternating or juxtaposed tempos and clashing keys. Leaving Russell after recording The Stratus Seekers, he went on to compose dozens of significant works for jazz ensembles, chamber and symphony orchestras, and serve for decades as an influential teacher at Indiana University.

Though offered few gigs during these years, Russell rehearsed the band relentlessly, and the compositions that he devised for these recordings are stunning in their seamless complexities and variety of moods, placing the soloists into challenging environments of often ambiguous tonalities and shifting rhythms which exploit the intensity of tension and resolution. On The Stratus Seekers, this includes the remarkable contrasting episodes of free phrasing and lightning-quick written responses on the title tune, the subtly chromatic line and cubist perspective of "Blues in Orbit," and "A Lonely Place," a tone poem of profound depth that inspires the participants to walk the tightrope between self-expression and compositional necessity.

Of the new saxophonists on The Stratus Seekers, both also from the highly artistic Indiana scene, Paul Plummer's playing appears the more conservative at first; though hauntingly introspective on "A Lonely Place," his vibrant expressionist side emerged later on The Outer View. As for altoist John Peirce (and please notice the spelling - his name has consistently been misspelled as Pierce in every previous release, review, and discographic listing of the album), his post-boppish solos are full of character and drive; note especially his striking entry on "A Lonely Place" and wild ride on "The Stratus Seekers."

Seven months after The Stratus Seekers, minus Baker and Peirce and with the addition of trombonist Garnett Brown and vocalist Sheila Jordan, Russell recorded The Outer View, concluding this rich but often frustrating period of his career. Two years later, during a tour of Europe, he relocated to Scandinavia, but that's the second chapter of the story."-Art Lange, Chicago, February 2022

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