COMPOSERS: Hal Russell
WORKS: The Hal Russell Story
PERFORMER: Hal Russell and the NRG Ensemble; Hal Russell (t, ss, ts, xyl, d, perc); Mars Williams (f, as, ts, bs, toy horns, perc); Brian Sandström (t, el-g, b, perc); Kent Kessler (tb, b); Steve Hunt (vib, d, perc)
CATALOGUE NO: 517 364-2
Although Hal Russell played with, among others, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Miles Davis and Stan Getz, it wasn’t until UK independent label Chief issued his Nessa recording Generation that he began, belatedly, to attract critical attention.
This CD, sadly his swansong, employs dryly humorous narration and musical sketching to chart Russell’s extraordinary passage from fraternity houses through swing bands and vaudeville to bop and free jazz. Russell and his band review rather than simply resurrect these styles from their current perspective as free players, and the result is a witty and trenchant tour through the jazz of the past 50 years. Chris Parker