April 30, 1999 Library of Congress Presents the George Russell Living Time Orchestra on May 10

Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
Website: Music Division

Jazz lovers have a rare opportunity to hear the George Russell Living Time Orchestra at the Library of Congress on Monday, May 10, at 8 p.m. in the Library's Coolidge Auditorium, which is located in the Thomas Jefferson Building, First Street and Independence Avenue S.E.

At 75, composer, theorist and bandleader George Russell has been an intriguing and provocative musical figure for five decades. Winner of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts American Jazz Master Fellowship, the British Jazz Award, and the National Music Award, Mr. Russell is renowned for his innovative Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, influential well beyond the boundaries of jazz.

In a trio of concerts in Boston, New York and Washington, Mr. Russell will conduct his London-based Living Time Orchestra, described by The London Times as "the living embodiment of vibrancy, unrivaled in its ability to thrill mind and body alike." The avant-garde jazz big band showcases Mr. Russell's exuberant and sophisticated compositions, complex, "rousingly beautiful" works that include now- classic milestones in jazz history.

With the world premiere of a new Russell work at the May 10 concert, Dialogue, for violin, piano, and synthesizers, Mr. Russell joins a distinguished roster of composers commissioned by the Library of Congress McKim Fund, among them Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve Mackey, Anthony Braxton, Anne LeBaron, Paul Dresher, Julia Wolfe, Donald Sur, Sir Roland Hanna, Ned Rorem, Ellen Zwilich and John Zorn.

Free tickets for the concert will be distributed by TicketMaster, at (301) 808-6900 or (410) 752-1200, for a nominal service charge of $2 per ticket, with additional charges for phone orders and handling. Concertgoers are encouraged to try for canceled or no-show tickets at the door on the night of the performance, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Long recognized as one of the most innovative composers in the evolution of contemporary jazz, George Russell started his career as a drummer, playing in a college band at Wilberforce University which is noted for producing great jazz artists such as Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Benny Carter. He toured as a drummer with the Carter orchestra, but later became a pianist and a member of a coterie of young innovators in New York City who frequented the 55th Street apartment of Gil Evans. The group included Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan, and John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Mr. Russell published the first edition of his landmark music theory system in 1953. The ideas behind the Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization were a crucial step toward the modal music of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and its ideas continue to influence musicians in many genres.

Mr. Russell's classic recording, "Kind of Blue," served as a beacon for other modernists such as Eric Dolphy and Art Farmer. Other Russell compositions also influenced his peers: "Cubano Be/Cubano Bop," considered the first piece to combine Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz; "A Bird in Igor's Yard," juxtaposing elements from Charlie Parker and Igor Stravinsky; and large-scale compositions such as "New York, New York" and "All About Rosie" remain important works for jazz scholars. In the 1960s Mr. Russell recorded six albums with a notable group featuring Don Cherry, Sheila Jordan, Dave Baker, and Steve Swallow. After a European tour with the group he remained in Scandinavia for five years. On his return to the United States, he was appointed to the jazz studies department of the New England Conservatory, where he continues today.

For information about the Library of Congress concert series, call (202) 707-5502. Or visit Concerts from the Library of Congress at the following address: http://www.loc.gov/rr/perform/concert.


PR 99-065
ISSN 0731-3527