Russell, George: New York, N.Y. (Acoustic Sounds Series/1959) LP
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The striking New York, N.Y. was a high point for influential jazz composer and arranger George Russell, an early proponent of "modal jazz," which featured fewer chord changes and encouraged soloists to improvise on the melody not on the harmony. For this 1959 Decca classic, Russell assembled an all-star orchestra, including John Coltrane, Bill Evans (a frequent Russell collaborator), Art Farmer, Bob Brookmeyer and Milt Hinton. Singer Jon Hendricks provides beatnik-style, stream-of-consciousness narrations that opened and closed this landmark album.
It was Russell's intention to showcase many of the important jazz soloists on the New York scene in this program. He did so, pulling no punches in his writing, providing an intelligent, functional, dramatic frame for the soloists. The framework is not arbitrary, but a thematically controlled entity from beginning to end. New York, N.Y. moves from old jazz territories to new and back again, breaking the barriers of tonality, presenting the jazz orchestra in a truly modern, linear sense, yet retains the earthy taste basic to the idiom.
"This is one of the most important albums made in a decade and the only one since the Basie era that is indispensable for anyone interested in U.S. culture today. The music is excellent, a triumph of indigenous feeling and concept that is bold, intuitive, and soft with love all at once. This a sumthin' else record!" wrote Ralph J. Gleason in his original five star review for Down Beat.
This all-analog 180g vinyl LP reissue was mastered from the original analog tapes by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound, pressed at QRP, and comes housed in a Stoughton tip-on gatefold jacket.