Books

George Russell

From inauspicious beginnings as an adopted child in 1920’s Cincinnati, George Russell overcame ill-health and transcended racism to become recognized as a unique figure in jazz: a major composer, bandleader, professor, and the music’s leading theoretician. The author of The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization and composer of a significant body of small group and orchestral works, Russell influenced the development of jazz and many of its leading practitioners.

George Russell: The Story of an American Composer is the first biography of one of the greatest figures in jazz. Russell’s story is interwoven with some of the most colorful characters in the history of the music-musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis, and Gil Evans. Written with Russell’s full cooperation and extensively researched with interviews from friends, family members, musicians, associates, and commentators on jazz, the book reveals many valuable insights and previously unknown facts about Russell’s life. Not only a biography, this volume also reflects and celebrates the evolution of modern jazz while presenting a re-evaluation of the relationship between jazz and classical music.

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Trad Dads, Dirty Boppers and Free Fusioneers

Trad Dads, Dirty Boppers and Free FusioneersThe 1960’s was a decade of major transformation in British Jazz and, of course, in British popular music in general. The British Jazz scene had been, arguably, the first outside America to assert its independence. At first slowly but with gathering speed, it began to define an identity that drew increasingly on sources from within its own culture, as well as those from African-American jazz, and from its shared European cultural heritage. This process would in itself prove highly influential, as French, Italian, German and Scandinavian scenes began to follow suit. The nature of Jazz, its scope and potential were re-examined and reformulated in this period with important implications for its musicians and its audience. But the external forces acting upon the UK Jazz scene were both global and local in origin.

 

On the one hand, Jazz was not immune from the economic, social and cultural changes that occurred following the Second World War and which continued apace in the 1960’s. Its development was both affected by and reflected those changes and the new ways of thinking and acting that arose from them. On the other hand, wider global economic and political changes, in particular in America, would continue to have a major impact on British Jazz. For these reasons, any history of British Jazz in the 1960’s must seek to explain these trends and describe which were global and which were local in origin. It must show how forces outside the music acted upon it and both created and limited its potential for development. But it must also define the personalities, as well as the context in which they functioned. Jazz is made by its musicians and is ultimately changed by them. What were the records that they made which defined the era? From where did their inspiration arise? And how did their audience respond? Trad Dads, Dirty Boppers and Free Fusioneers follows a number of themes class, education, drugs and addictions, relationships with Rock and Blues, race and immigration, gender issues, the arts, politics and that sixties buzzword, freedom . In doing so, the book challenges many conventional understandings of British Jazz and its scene. This is the definitive history of British Jazz and the context in which it was defined – the 1960’s.

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