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George Russell Dies at 86

George Russell, a music theoretician, arranger, composer and pianist whose research laid the groundwork for modal jazz, died Monday night in Boston from complications related … Read More "George Russell Dies at 86"
George Russell Sextet: "Ezz-thetics" (1961)

George Russell, a music theoretician, arranger, composer and pianist whose research laid the groundwork for modal jazz, died Monday night in Boston from complications related to Alzheimer’s. He was 86.

Russell was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1923, and attended Ohio’s Wilberforce University (a school with an impressive list of jazz alumni), where he played drums in the Collegians, a local dance band. At 20 he was chosen to play drums in Benny Carter’s band, left school and moved to New York, but was replaced by Max Roach. Roach’s mastery impressed Russell so deeply that he decided to focus on writing.

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