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George Russell's Jazz Workshop: The composer's style and original methods of 1956

Dissertation
Author: Peter Ellis Kenagy
Abstract:
This study contributes to knowledge of George Russell's musical compositions and illustrates the creative methods of his 1956 work for small jazz ensemble. This body of work consisted of twelve pieces for the RCA Victor album The Jazz Workshop: George Russell and His Smalltet and three pieces commissioned by saxophonist Hal McKusick for his own Jazz Workshop album. George Russell (1923-2009) is remembered as a pioneering jazz music theorist, but his life in music integrated rich activity alongside theory, including performing on drums and piano, composing, leading a sextet and jazz orchestra, and teaching. Russell's compositions have not received significant attention by researchers, who have instead focused on his extraordinary theoretical accomplishment, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation (1953, 1959, 1964, 2001), recognized as the first theory of tonality to come from within jazz. This study repositions Russell's music alongside his theory and places his achievements in the context of his early life experiences, his development during the swing era, and his participation, beginning in 1947, in New York City's modern jazz movement. Russell's involvement with the RCA Victor Jazz Workshop series in 1956 marked his return to activity as a composer and his first experience as a bandleader. From 1947 through 1949 he had composed big band music for Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy DeFranco, and Artie Shaw. From 1950 through 1953, he then took time away from composing to develop his theoretical foundation, ultimately creating the Lydian Chromatic Concept as his personal system. In the midst of a fertile time in the development of jazz music, Russell's 1956 Jazz Workshop period found him among modern jazz players who were sympathetic to his new ideas and came to be guided by his vision. A review of the academic literature reveals that studies of Russell have tended to focus not on his music but on his contribution to modal jazz theory and culture--often represented by Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and their followers in the sixties--and as a figure within a movement of African American avant-gardism. Through documentation and analysis of his musical materials and methods, the present work adds to the few studies attempting to view Russell's unique compositional voice in the context of his wide impact. In part one, author interviews with participants Hal McKusick and Paul Motian, as well as oral histories and remembrances by his peers, give insight into Russell's Jazz Workshop period and the cooperative nature of the community involved in commissioning, rehearsing, and performing this challenging music. An overview of jazz in New York City of 1956 establishes the context in which Russell was working and reveals an active new wave of jazz composer-performers. Russell and his wife Alice Norbury Russell made manuscript analysis possible beginning in 2008. As an additional resource, the author has made personal transcriptions of the Jazz Workshop music. In part two, analytical chapters build upon each other, tracing Russell's approach to melody, counterpoint, harmony, form, and the role of improvisation. Finally, thematic and modal organization are analyzed within a representative piece, "Knights of the Steamtable." George Russell's musical language touches on many familiar elements in jazz composition: practices of blues, swing, and improvisation; conventions of big band arranging; the Afro-Latin influence; and popular song form. But his music also makes use of ideas that were rare in jazz at that time, such as suite form, dissonant counterpoint, pantonality, and the modal (scalar) approach to composition and improvisation his own theory had informed. This study concludes that with the music of his 1956 Jazz Workshop period, Russell was able to integrate his pursuits of music theory, composition, and performance into a unified, original, and influential art.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... viii

LIST OF EXAMPLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ ix

PART I: GEORGE RUSSELL

AND THE JAZZ WORKSHOP ................................ ................................ 1

CHAPTER 1: PROJECT OVERVIEW ................................ ................................ ............................ 2

CHAPTER 2: GEORGE RUSSELL’S LIFE AND WORK ................................ ........................ 13

CHAPTER 3: THE LYDIAN CHROMATIC CONCEPT AND RUSSE LL’S INFLUENCE ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 32

PART II: S T UDY OF COMPOSITIO NS IN THE JAZZ WORKSHOP PERIOD ........................... 50

CHAPTER 4: RUSSELL’S MUSIC IN THE CONTEXT OF JAZZ IN 1956 ........................ 51

CHAPTER 5: RUSSELL’S MODAL MELODICISM AND TECHNIQUE OF EXTREME RHYTHMIC REPETITION ................................ ................................ ............... 61

5.1 Russell’s modal approach to melodic line and composed “improvisations” ..... 62

5.2 Harmonic variation within rhythmic cells ................................ .............................. 70

5.3 Russell’s motivic/intervallic approach to blues melody ................................ ......... 76

CHAPTER 6: COUNTERPOINT AND LAYERS ................................ ................................ ..... 80

6.1 Simple bitonality through counterpoint ................................ ................................ .. 81

6.2 Staggeri ng entrances of a melodic line ................................ ................................ .... 82

6.3 Russell’s method of layering three or more independent voices ......................... 85

CHAPTER 7: VERTICAL STRUCTURES: INTERVALLIC VOICING TECHNIQUES AND HARMONIC PROGRESSIONS ................................ ................... 90

7.1 Modal - diatonic and fourth/fifth - based voicings ................................ .................... 90

7.2 Re harmonization and chord substitutions in a blues context ............................. 94

7.3 Creation of new chord progressions compatible with improvised solos ........... 96

CHAPTER 8: OLD AND NEW FORMS ................................ ................................ ................... 105

8.1 Experimenting with programmatic formalism ................................ .................... 105

8.2 Updating bebop formalism ................................ ................................ ...................... 112

8.3 Russell’s new approach: segmented form ................................ .............................. 121

vii

CHAPTER 9: STUDY OF “KNIGHTS OF THE STEAMTABLE” (1956): Modal motives and harmonic content in a through - composed piece ................................ ...... 127

9.1 Overview of piece ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 128

9.2 Thematic exposition of sections A, B, and C ................................ ........................ 131

9.3 Chord al and improvised development sections D – H ................................ ......... 137

9.4 Ending the piece, section I ................................ ................................ ....................... 146

CHAPTER 10: CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 151

REFERENCES, SCORES, AND RECORDINGS ................................ ................................ ..... 155

APPENDIX A: EARLY COMPOSITIONS AND RECORDINGS OF GEORGE RUSSELL, 1947 – 1956 ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 162

APPENDIX B: COMPLETE 1956 SE SSION INFORMATION AND DISCOGRAPHY ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 163

APPENDIX C: LP AND CD RELEASES OF GEORGE RUSSELL’S COMPOSITIONS RECORDED FOR RCA VICTOR IN 1956 ................................ ..... 165

APPENDIX D: ORDER OF TITLES ON RCA VICTOR LPM 1372, PL 42187, AND LPM 2534 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 166

APPENDIX E: GLOSSARY OF TERMS FOUND IN 1959 EDITION OF LCC .............. 167

APPENDIX F: RUSSELL’S LINER NOTES TO THE JAZZ WORKSHOP ........................ 169

APPENDIX G: HAL MCKUSICK INTERVIEW AND CAREER SKETCH ..................... 171

APPENDIX H: FACSIMILE OF R AN BLAKE’S COLLECTED SIGNATURES PETITIONING RE - RELEASE OF THE JAZZ WORKSHOP , COLLECTED CIR CA 1960 – 1964 ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 178

APPENDIX I: CONVERSATION WITH PAUL MOTIAN ................................ ................. 185

AUTHOR’S BIOGRAPHY ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 187

viii

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 2.1. Timeline of life and early career, 1923 – 1960

................................ ................................ ...... 13

Figure 3.1.

Sample chord, with parent scale and Lydian tonic ................................ ............................. 35

Figure 3.2. Si x modes built from a Lydian tonic ................................ ................................ ...................... 35

Figure 3.3.

D ♭ Lydian parent scale, with numbered system of modes ................................ ................ 36

Figure 3.4.

D ♭ Lydian augmented scale, with numbered system of modes ................................ ....... 37

Figure 3.5.

D ♭ Lydian diminished scale, with numbered system of modes ................................ ....... 37

Figure 3.6.

Two horizontal modes of the LCC, and their combination ................................ .............. 39

Figure 3.7.

Scale resources of the LCC ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 39

Figure 3.8. J. Kern, “All the Things You Are,” mm. 1 – 8., with parent scale ................................ ...... 40

Figure 3.9.

Eric Dolphy postcard to George Russell, August 23, 1961 ................................ ................ 44

Figure 5.1. Riff lengths and repetitions in openin g of “Concerto for Billy the Kid” ....................... 74

Figure 5.2.

Call and response in classic blues model ................................ ................................ ................ 78

Figure 5.3.

Modification of model call and response in second phrase of “Jack’s Blues” ................ 78

Figure 6.1.

Common tones in C blues and A ♭ blues scales ................................ ................................ ... 82

Figure 7.1.

Circle of fifths progression in “Jack’s Blues,” blues section ................................ ............... 96

Figure 7.2.

Raye – Johnson – de Paul, “I’ll Remember April,” standard progression in key of F ..... 102

Figure 8.1. Structure of “The Ballad of Hix Blewitt” ................................ ................................ ............ 107

Figure 8. 2.

Rhythmic feel changes in “Miss Clara” ................................ ................................ ............... 107

Figure 8.3.

Formal structure of “The Day John Brown Was Hanged” ................................ .............. 109

Figure 8.4. Russell, “Ezz - thetic” (1956 vers.), outline showing bebop formal structure ................ 114

Figure 8.5. Russell, “Ezz - thetic,” piano part, ca. 1 950 ................................ ................................ ........... 118

Figure 8.6.

Russell, “Round Johnny Rondo,” formal outline ................................ .............................. 121

Figure 8.7. Russell, “Witch Hunt,” formal outline ................................ ................................ ................ 122

Figure 8.8.

Russell, “Concerto for Billy the Kid,” formal outline ................................ ....................... 123

Figure 8.9.

Three formal types in Russell’s Jazz Workshop musi c ................................ ...................... 125

Figure 9.1.

Outline of sections in “Knights of the Steamtable” ................................ ......................... 129

Figure 9.2.

Blues and Lydian motives in B section of “Knights of the Steamtable” ....................... 133

Figure 9.3.

Sectional and regional key areas in “Knights of the Steamtable” ................................ .. 150

Figure 10.1. Album c over, The RCA Victor Jazz Workshop: George Russell and His Smalltet

... 152

ix

LIST OF EXAMPLES

Example 3.1. Russell’s blues chord progression and horizontal tonic stations ................................ ... 42

Example 5.1.

Russell, “Concerto for Billy the Kid,” piano solo mm 9 – 20 ................................ ......... 64

Example 5.2.

Russell, “Concerto for Billy the Kid,” piano solo reh. E ................................ ................. 65

Example 5.3.

Russell, “The Day John Brown Was Hanged,” Bass, reh. A – D ................................ .... 66

Example 5.4.

Russell, “The Day John Brown Was Hanged,” reh. A to D , (“The Hanging”) ......... 67

Example 5.5.

Russell, “Witch H unt,” reh. C and D , bass line ................................ ............................... 68

Example 5.6.

Russell, “Witch Hunt,” reh. C and D , melody ................................ ................................ 69

Example 5.7.

William “Count” Basie, “Jumpin’ at the Woodside,”

melody ................................ ...... 71

Example 5.8.

Russell, “Round Johnny Rondo,” reh. B , melody ................................ ........................... 71

Example 5.9.

Russell, “Ye Hy pocrite, Ye Beelzebub,” trumpet motive ................................ ............... 72

Example 5.10.

Russell, “Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub,” reh. A to C , trumpet ................................ .... 73

Example 5.11.

Russell, “Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub,” trumpet and alto riff no. 1 ......................... 74

Example 5.12.

Russell, “Concerto for Billy the Kid,” reh. C and D , melody ................................ ..... 75

Example 5.13.

Russell, “Jack’s Blues,” melody only, showing contemporary features .................... 77

Example 5.14.

Russell, “Jack’s Blues,”

mm. 11 – 22 ................................ ................................ .................. 79

Example 6.1.

Russell, “Miss Clara,” mm. 1 – 8 (concert pitch) ................................ ............................... 81

Example 6.2.

Russell, “Concerto for Billy the Kid,” reh. G ................................ ................................ ... 83

Example 6.3.

Russell, “Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub,” bass, beginning ................................ ............... 86

Example 6.4. Russell, “Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub,” trumpet, beginning ................................ ....... 86

Example 6.5.

Russell, “Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub,” alto, reh. B ................................ ....................... 86

Example 6.6.

Russell, “Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub,” score, reh. A and B ................................ ......... 88

Example 7.1.

Russell, “Ezz - thetic,” Introduction, rec. Konitz sextet 1951 ................................ ........ 91

Example 7.2.

Russell, “Witch Hunt,” reh. H ................................ ................................ ............................ 92

Example 7.3.

Russell, “Fellow Delegates,” ending vamp, showing pentaton ic collections ............. 94

Example 7.4.

Russell, “Jack’s Blues,” melody and harmony of final cadence of blues section ....... 95

Example 7.5a.

Russell, “Round Johnny Rondo,” melody chorus A section ................................ ....... 97

Example 7.5b.

Russell, “Round Johnny Rondo,” melody chorus B section ................................ ....... 98

Example 7.6. Russell, “Round Johnny Rondo,” solo chorus form ................................ ...................... 101

Example 7.7.

Russell, “Concerto for Billy the Kid.” Bridge (B) reharmonization, reh. O ............. 103

x

Example 8.1. Russell, “The Ballad of Hix Blewitt,” (“The West,” mm. 1 – 14) ................................ . 106

Example 8.2.

Russell, “The Day John Brown Was Hanged,” reh. E ................................ .................. 110

Example 8.3. Russell, “The Day John Brown Was Hanged” reh. M ................................ .................. 111

Example 8.4.

Russell, “Ezz - thetic,” send - off circa 1949 – 1951 (Konitz and Parker vers.) ............. 115

Example 8.5. Russell, “Ezz - thetic,”

send - off before guit ar solo (1956 version) ............................... 115

Example 8.6.

Solo chord changes to “Witch Hunt” ................................ ................................ .............. 126

Example 9.1. Blues motive (in key of B ♭ blues), “Knights of the Steamtable” ............................... 130

Example 9.2.

Lydian motive (i n D ♭ ), “Knights of the Steamtable” ................................ ................. 130

Example 9.3.

Russell, “Knights of the Steamtable,” reh. A ................................ ................................ .. 132

Example 9.4.

Russell, “Knights of the Steamtable,” reh. B ................................ ................................ .. 134

Example 9.5.

Russell, “Knights of the Steamtable,” trumpet, reh. C , mm. 28 – 32 ......................... 135

Example 9.6.

Russell, “Knights of the Steamtable,” reh. C ................................ ................................ .. 136

Example 9.7.

Russell, “Knights of the Steamtable,” reh. D ................................ ................................ . 138

Example 9.8.

Russell, “Knights of the Steamtable,” reh. E ................................ ................................ .. 139

Example 9. 9.

Progression in mm. 68 – 71, “Knights of the Steamtable” ................................ ........... 140

Example 9.10.

Progression in mm. 74 – 79, “Knights of the Steamtable” ................................ ........ 140

Example 9.11.

Russell, “Knights of the Steamtable,” reh. F ................................ ................................ 141

Example 9.12.

Russell, “Knights of the Steamtable,” reh. G ................................ ............................... 1 43

Example 9.13.

Reduction of Tpt, A. S., and Gtr., mm 97 – 98, “Knights of the Steamtable” ....... 144

Example 9.14.

Russell, “Knights of the Steamtable,” reh. H ................................ ............................... 145

Example 9.15.

Aggregate of pitches in final chord ................................ ................................ ............... 146

Example 9.16.

Russell, “Knights of the Steamt able,” reh. I ................................ ................................ . 148

1

PART I: GEORGE RUSSELL AND THE JAZZ WORKSHOP

2

CHAPTER 1: PROJECT OVERVIEW

George Allen Russell (June 23, 1923 – July 27, 2009) is known primarily for his legacy as the first jazz musician to make a major contribution to music theory v ia the treatise The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation (1953, 1959, 1964, 2001). This “view or philosophy of tonality,” to quote the 1959 edition, has had a broad influence, as it categorized all the tonal resources inherent i n the system of equal temperament and unified the relationship of scales to chords for the jazz improviser or composer. Beginning in the late 1940s, and increasingly into the 1950s, Russell’s theory and compositions contributed to the development of Afro - C uban and jazz fusion, and to the rise of modal jazz. While based in Scandinavia in the late 1960s, Russell influenced a new wave of European musicians with his music and theories, and the Lydian Chromatic Concept has contributed to the way jazz theory was taught in American universities and conservatories since the early 1970s. Always a progressive thinker, with roots in the swing era and jazz of the mid - 1930s and WWII era, Russell’s influence extended to jazz - rock fusion in the 1980s, and to contemporary c lassical composition internationally.

Russell has achieved more fame as a theorist than as a composer and performer, but concurrent with his lifelong focus on theory, Russell had a career as composer and bandleader. This dissertation seeks to highlight th e significance of Russell’s original music by focusing on a pivotal year in his work. Active for over fifty years, he wrote music that has consistently been viewed as significant and forward - looking. For commitment to both innovation and tradition, his mus ic ranks in the pantheon of great jazz composers from Duke Ellington to Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, and Gil Evans. Russell incorporated the fullest intellectual range of style, harmony, rhythm, and form available to the jazz composer, and embraced man y elements

3

beyond conventional jazz music. As a bandleader beginning in 1960, he established and maintained working sextets and jazz orchestras in America and Europe, often playing piano.

Growing up in a rich African American musical environment in Cinci nnati, and with roots as a jazz drummer in the 1940s with the big bands of Benny Carter and others, Russell’s musical heritage runs deep into the jazz tradition. To jazz musicians, audiences, and writers, Russell has always been known as an artist represen ting the highest rational, emotional, intuitive, and spiritual aims. He remained fiercely independent and rejected what he viewed as a commercial and capitalist jazz marketplace.

His legacy among insiders — select musicians and jazz aficionados — as a multifa ceted genius is founded on the influence of his Lydian Chromatic Concept, but extends to his compositions, band leading, drum and piano playing, and teaching. Trumpeter Art Farmer called the Concept “The past, the present, the future, all in one. A must fo r the serious musician.” 1 Gill Evans called Russell’s book “Far ahead of any...in the field.” 2

In tribute to Russell, Bob Brookmeyer wrote:

I realize more every year that he gave a word that I am still chasing — “chromatic.” He was (and is) our Schoenberg a nd our Stravinsky — leaving us a way to organize musical language that was unimaginable until George decided it needed to be done. 3

Of Russell’s music, friend, colleague, and pianist Ran Blake wrote:

As important as his theoretical studies are, I primarily consider George’s most important contribution in music as that of a composer. There are sounds that he gets from the orchestra and small group that no one else achieves. His music is as identifiable as that of Messiaen and Strayhorn. 4

1

George Russell, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization: Volume One; The Art and Science of Tonal Organization (Brookl ine, MA: Concept Publishing: 2001), book jacket and brochure.

2

Ibid.

3

“In Memoriam: George Russell 1923 – 2009,”

All About Jazz: New York, September 6, 2009, http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=33974 (accessed September 9, 2009).

4

Ibid.

4

This thesis explor es the fifteen musical compositions written by George Russell that were recorded in 1956 for the RCA Victor Jazz Workshop series.

Hal McKusick’s Jazz Workshop (Vic LPM 1366) album contained three Russell pieces, and The Jazz Workshop:

George Russell and Hi s Smalltet (Vic LPM 1372) contained the remaining twelve. 5 These recordings mark Russell’s debut as a leader of his long - standing sextet. They also represent his inspired and prolific return to composing, after having all but ceased for four years to devel op his theoretical foundation. Musicians and critics have noted the strength and significance of these Jazz Workshop series

compositions since their release on record during the rise of modal jazz, yet this body of work for small jazz ensemble represents a phase in Russell’s work that has not been documented in an analytic study. Russell’s far - reaching influence in music has been recognized for decades, and although this 1956 period of creativity is acknowledged by jazz musicians, teachers, critics, and res earchers as part of an important development in modern jazz, Russell’s musical ideas and their formal organization have remained largely unexamined in writing.

The Jazz Workshop: George Russell and His Smalltet was Russell’s first album as a leader, and h is earliest masterpiece. This study of the scores and recordings developed out of a first - hand appreciation for Russell, and the powerful feeling that comes from all of his music; I was his student in the Lydian Chromatic Concepts classes he taught (1998 , 1999), and a member of the jazz orchestra that was an institution in and of itself at the New England Conservatory under Russell’s direction (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002). Playing trumpet in Russell’s ensembles led me to appreciate the strength and force of t he diverse music he wrote throughout his career — from the early classic swing and Latin masterpieces, to the dense jungles of his more recent works of jazz -

5 Other Jazz Workshop releases were The Arrangers (works by Gil Evans, Johnny Carisi, McKusick, and Russell); Hal Schaefer ; Billy Byers ;

and Four Brass, One Tenor . See Appendix B for complete Russell discography of 1956, and Appendix C for subsequent releases of the Russell Jazz Workshop period sessions .

5

rock fusion, complete with searing electric guitars and synthesizers and wildly intense percussion s olos — and to witness the ability of his music to take talented musicians to a higher plane of group achievement, both technically and emotionally. Russell’s music was truly remarkable and inspiring; he did not speak about it at great length, but through reh earsals and performances, Russell’s lifelong vision became tangible and real. This investigation of his earliest small - group compositions has developed out of a love and respect for Russell as a complete musician.

The

compositions on The Jazz Workshop inc lude elements that Russell would develop for over fifteen years. Many rare and attractive qualities made this music unique in jazz composition: complex melodic lines, contrapuntal textures, and fresh harmonies and progressions. The connections between the short pieces — the recurring scalar themes, the changing rhythms and moods — are vital to Russell’s compositional style, and this project is therefore focused on exploring his compositional voice in these works.

Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept provides the theoretical background for understanding his music, but does not explain the details of how his Jazz Workshop music was organized. To uncover this, one must delve into the works themselves, and incorporate the Concept as a part of the understanding of his work. These works are united by the intricate logic of Russell's music, a pattern that reveals itself as we identify the key elements of form and content that drive each piece . As a group of related compositions, understanding the music leads one to broad ly categorize Russell’s concepts of melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic thinking. Key aspects of Russell’s melodic, rhythmic, contrapuntal, and harmonic

design are illustrated in the following chapters. In comparing the formal structure of these pieces, an und erstanding of Russell’s general compositional process also becomes clear.

6

Recurring questions as I explored the compositions were: What are the musical materials that Russell works with or favors, and how are these individual parts put together to make a whole? What methods of organization meld these pieces into complete entities? What signs of Russell’s personalized system of music theory (the Lydian Chromatic Concept, what he called “real knowledge”) and his experience as a jazz drummer and arranger sinc e the early 1940s resulted in this forward - thinking, yet deeply informed, jazz music of 1956?

Russell’s work, particularly his seminal theory text dating to 1946 – 1947 , has long been the subject of academic interest. 6 Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept rep resents the first comprehensive explanation of jazz melody and harmony by a jazz musician. Russell’s theory brings the elements of jazz improvisation and composition into a unified system that takes into account the broad range of methods employed by diver se jazz players and discusses the styles of individual players, such as Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins.

On the NBC television show The Subject is Jazz, in a 1958 episode entitled “The Future of Jazz,” one of Russell’s first public demonstrations featur ed his description of the essential difference between the vertical, arpeggio - based approach to improvisation exemplified by Coleman Hawkins and the horizontal, scale - based, approach exemplified by Lester Young. 7

Russell’s view observed that tonality could be conveyed by separate entities of melody and harmony, or scale and chord. This attention to the chord/scale relationship has become central to

6

George Russell, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation (New York, Concept Publishing, 1959).

Although published in 1959, the LCC was first copyrighted by Russell in 1953, when produ ced as a short, and undistributed, mimeograph. No copies of this version are known to exist in libraries, or in Russell’s files. Dave Guard of the Kingston Trio, helped Russell publish the LCC in 1959 , and was known by Alice Russell to posses a copy of the 1953 first edition when he died in 1991. The 1959 edition is therefore the first viable source for the actual content of the LCC , although it was not available as a publication when the Jazz Workshop music was recorded in 1956.

7 Gilbert Seldes, The Subje ct is Jazz, episode “The Future of Jazz,” NBC, June 18, 1958, online video, YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAgaqALyJJ4 (accessed July 15, 2008).

7

both jazz practice and pedagogy. In the 1964 edition of the LCC , Russell’s terms would explain the tonal princ iples of two other important saxophonists of the late fifties, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

Russell states in the LCC :

The possible use of more than one scale for each chord greatly frees the improviser from the vertical limitations of arpeggiated p laying. The number of scales at the players command opens new avenues of improvising.

Critical attention to his work first came from Russell’s peers; contemporaries such as John Lewis, Gunther Schuller, John Benson Brooks, and Martin Williams began to co mment positively on his work in essays and album reviews appearing in the short - lived monthly Jazz Review, published from November of 1958 to January of 1961 in New York City. A host of other reviews, essays, interviews, television appearances, and roundta ble discussions (which included Russell, in some cases) from 1958 to 1964 show that the jazz intelligentsia of the Space Age took a lively interest in Russell and his musical ideas. 8

Russell’s theory attracted the curiosity of students and teachers of ja zz approximately one decade after the 1959 edition of the LCC appeared in print. This second edition was in actuality the first to be distributed and promoted — Russell took out advertisements in the Jazz Review

advertising the book and lessons taught from h is 121 Bank Street apartment in Greenwich Village. In the later sixties, a few Indiana University student theses examined the Lydian Chromatic Concept. It was adopted there as a jazz improvisation text, and pioneering jazz educators acknowledged a debt to the theory in the burgeoning field of pedagogic jazz books. 9

8

Record reviews of Vic LPM 1372: New Yorker, July 13, 1957; Down Beat, May 29, 1958; Jazz Review, November 1960. Panel discussion: Bill Coss, “Afterhours: A Jazz Discussion with Clark Terry, Don Ellis, Bob Brookmeyer, Hall Overton, George Russell,” Down Beat (November 9, 1961): 19 – 22, 38.

9

John Howard Riley, “ A Critical Examination of George Russell’ s Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation” (master’s thesis, Indiana University, 1967); Jack Louis Simon, “ An

8

David Baker was responsible for bringing attention to the LCC through his teaching at Indiana University, and by giving credit to Russell in several of his books. These pedagogic books espoused a nd developed Russell’s ideas in the LCC about how there exists a best fitting scale for every chord — a “parent scale” — in a song’s chord progression. The improviser is free to choose other alternative scales to this best - fitting scale, in order to enrich the ir melodic content to the full spectrum, using up to all twelve pitches if desired.

Later still, in the 1980s, European theorists took notice of Russell and discussed his theory in their jazz journals. 10 All of these students, teachers, and academics focus ed almost exclusively on describing, evaluating, and interpreting Russell’s theory of chords and scales. This fascination among writers with Russell as theorist became the dominant history of Russell as told in both jazz scholarship and the common jazz med ia into the early 1990s, and may have overshadowed other types of interest or research in Russell’s repertoire.

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Abstract: This study contributes to knowledge of George Russell's musical compositions and illustrates the creative methods of his 1956 work for small jazz ensemble. This body of work consisted of twelve pieces for the RCA Victor album The Jazz Workshop: George Russell and His Smalltet and three pieces commissioned by saxophonist Hal McKusick for his own Jazz Workshop album. George Russell (1923-2009) is remembered as a pioneering jazz music theorist, but his life in music integrated rich activity alongside theory, including performing on drums and piano, composing, leading a sextet and jazz orchestra, and teaching. Russell's compositions have not received significant attention by researchers, who have instead focused on his extraordinary theoretical accomplishment, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation (1953, 1959, 1964, 2001), recognized as the first theory of tonality to come from within jazz. This study repositions Russell's music alongside his theory and places his achievements in the context of his early life experiences, his development during the swing era, and his participation, beginning in 1947, in New York City's modern jazz movement. Russell's involvement with the RCA Victor Jazz Workshop series in 1956 marked his return to activity as a composer and his first experience as a bandleader. From 1947 through 1949 he had composed big band music for Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy DeFranco, and Artie Shaw. From 1950 through 1953, he then took time away from composing to develop his theoretical foundation, ultimately creating the Lydian Chromatic Concept as his personal system. In the midst of a fertile time in the development of jazz music, Russell's 1956 Jazz Workshop period found him among modern jazz players who were sympathetic to his new ideas and came to be guided by his vision. A review of the academic literature reveals that studies of Russell have tended to focus not on his music but on his contribution to modal jazz theory and culture--often represented by Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and their followers in the sixties--and as a figure within a movement of African American avant-gardism. Through documentation and analysis of his musical materials and methods, the present work adds to the few studies attempting to view Russell's unique compositional voice in the context of his wide impact. In part one, author interviews with participants Hal McKusick and Paul Motian, as well as oral histories and remembrances by his peers, give insight into Russell's Jazz Workshop period and the cooperative nature of the community involved in commissioning, rehearsing, and performing this challenging music. An overview of jazz in New York City of 1956 establishes the context in which Russell was working and reveals an active new wave of jazz composer-performers. Russell and his wife Alice Norbury Russell made manuscript analysis possible beginning in 2008. As an additional resource, the author has made personal transcriptions of the Jazz Workshop music. In part two, analytical chapters build upon each other, tracing Russell's approach to melody, counterpoint, harmony, form, and the role of improvisation. Finally, thematic and modal organization are analyzed within a representative piece, "Knights of the Steamtable." George Russell's musical language touches on many familiar elements in jazz composition: practices of blues, swing, and improvisation; conventions of big band arranging; the Afro-Latin influence; and popular song form. But his music also makes use of ideas that were rare in jazz at that time, such as suite form, dissonant counterpoint, pantonality, and the modal (scalar) approach to composition and improvisation his own theory had informed. This study concludes that with the music of his 1956 Jazz Workshop period, Russell was able to integrate his pursuits of music theory, composition, and performance into a unified, original, and influential art.