GEORGE RUSSELL — George Russell Sextet Featuring Don Ellis & Eric Dolphy ‎: 1 2 3 4 5 6extet (review)

GEORGE RUSSELL — George Russell Sextet Featuring Don Ellis & Eric Dolphy ‎: 1 2 3 4 5 6extet album cover Boxset / Compilation · 1969 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
js
“George Russell Sextet” is a compilation album that pulls from three of Russell’s albums from the early 60s, “Ezz-thetics”, “Stratus Seeker” and “the Outer View”. Much of what goes on in today’s jazz world can be traced back to George Russell and his sidemen such as Eric Dolphy, Don Ellis, Dave Baker and Steve Swallow. Listening to these tracks you can hear today’s abstract approach that walks a thin line between post bop and the avant-garde. Much like today’s players, sometimes Russell and his crew are in the pocket, and other times quite free. Likewise, they have room to play both inside and outside the chord changes. This is creative music that avoids clichés or expectations.

The album cover promises the appearance of Don Ellis and Eric Dolphy, which is only partially true. While Ellis does appear on every track, Eric is only on three, but the other tracks feature brilliant saxophone work from under-rated horn men such as John Pearce and Paul Plummer. Possibly just as important, Steve Swallow is the bassist on every track and he turns in his usual powerful performance. Hearing the young Ellis is interesting as his playing changed a bit over the years. In his youth, his playing was very bright and extroverted, and displayed a very noticeable Dizzy Gillespie influence.

This is a great selection of tracks that flow together very well for a compilation album. The music ranges from a very out there rendition of Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave”, to a funky blues original by Russell called “Blues in Orbit”. Elsewhere on here, Dolphy turns in the most intense reading of “Round Midnight” ever, and altoist John Pearce breaks a few land speed records on “The Stratus Seekers”. As mentioned earlier, much of what goes on in today’s scene can be traced back to these albums. If you are not familiar with Russell, this compilation is a great place to start.
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