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R.I.P. George Russell

July 28, 2009

George Russell | Image by

Jazz composer/bandleader/theorist George Russell passed away Monday after a long illness. His was far from a household name even in many jazz-loving households, but cognoscenti will mourn him for a career that encompassed an influential theoretical treatment of modal playing in jazz (The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization) to shrewd experiments within the vanguard mid-20th-century jazz (including vital collaborations with seminal figures such as pianist Bill Evans and reedsman Eric Dolphy) to the ambitious genre-bending suites such as Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature and The African Game that defined his later career. Posthumous appreciations for this under-appreciated figure will surely follow, but Patrick Jarenwattananon has already posted an appealing remembrance over at