Tuesday, July 28, 2009

George Russell, 1923 - 2009


The composer George Russell, best known for his 1953 music theory The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization died yesterday aged 86. He had been unwell for some time and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. His ideas were at the time seen as some of the first major contributions by a jazz musician in the field of music theory. But Russell was not only a theorist and as firstly a drummer in the 1940s with Benny Carter and later after formulating his theory – which explored the nature of chord/scale unity – as a composer wrote ‘Cubano Be/Cubana Bop’ for Dizzy Gillespie combining jazz and latin influences and one of his best known compositions ‘Bird in Igor’s Yard’ recorded by Buddy DeFranco.

He contributed arrangements to the bands of Artie Shaw and Charlie Ventura among others and in the mid-1950s started to make his own recordings as a leader of the Jazz Workshop. He became part of the circle of Gil Evans and along with Evans was one of the leading jazz composers of the 1950s and 60s, premièring ‘All About Rosie’ in 1957 and teaching at the Lenox School of Jazz and taking up piano.

In the 1960s he moved to Scandinavia and taught in Sweden and in Denmark and thanks to Swedish radio was able to record his compositions and undertake new commissions. He worked with Don Cherry and a young Jan Garbarek and then on his return to the States joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory. Later in the 1980s and 90s he formed and toured his Anglo-American group the Living Time Orchestra which featured Andy Sheppard among the soloists. His albums include the classic 1961 Riverside album Ezz-Thetics.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Loser Winners: A Word With Sarah Palin

(In light of recent events, we consider ourselves fortunate to have had the opportunity to conduct the following interview):

So let me get this straight. You just quit.

No, no I didn’t. You weren’t listening.

I was standing right there.

No, you see, I may lose in the short term, but Alaska will win in the long term.

Losing’s like quitting, right?


So you’re not quitting?


You’re going to stay in office and fight this thing out?


I’m still confused.

Look, it’s like I’m the quarterback and I’ve just been flagged for using illegal steroids.


Now if I stay and defend myself against these ridiculous lie-filled lies that the big city folk have come up with, Alaska loses.


So the only way for me to help Alaska win is for me to lose.

Which means you quit.

No! Look, I’m a maverick and we do things in unconventional ways.

I see.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of quitting public service, it’s that I don’t need a ‘title’ to accomplish any sort of positive change.

Then why run for anything in the first place?

I’m sorry?

If you’ve always believed that you don’t need those kinds of titles to serve the public, why not just avoid the process entirely? Sort of like quitting before you quit.

Yes, but that would be quitting. I’m not quitting.

That’s right. You mentioned that.

And right now, staying on would be the most quittingest thing I could do. Why is that so difficult to understand?

So you’re not quitting?

No. Quitting is the only way I can not quit.

That’s pretty mavericky, all right.

If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.


We need more Trigs. Lots and lots more Trigs! Full court press!

(offstage) It’s time to go, Ms. Palin.

(passes hand in front of face) I am not the droid you’re looking for.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

4th Of July