Personnel: George Russell; Hal McKusick (alto saxophone, alto flute); Art Farmer (trumpet); Bill Evans (piano); Barry Galbraith (guitar); Milt Hinton, Teddy Kotick (bass); Osie Johnson, Joe Harris, Paul Motian (drums).
Recorded at Webster Hall, New York, New York on March 31, October 17 & December 21, 1956. Includes liner notes by George Russell.
Though he has yet to become a household name, pianist/composer George Russell has made his mark on the jazz world. His book, THE LYDIAN CONCEPT OF TONAL ORGANIZATION, one of the first music theory books written by a jazz musician, was published in the early 1950s. His concepts were to influence such later jazz digressions as the modal sounds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
THE JAZZ WORKSHOP is a reissue of a long-unavailable 1956 album (plus two alternate takes), and it features jazz legend Bill Evans on piano--Russell himself is solely a composer and arranger here. Russell's tunes are as fascinating as their titles: "Knights of the Steamtable," "Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub," "Round Johnny Rondo." Russell learned valuable lessons from such classical composers as Stravinsky, Bartok, and Stefan Wolpe in terms of composition and arranging, but this is no stuffy, awkward, heavy-handed attempt at jazz/classical fusion. The tunes are lyrical, with many wistful unison parts for trumpet, saxophone, and guitar, and have an elegant yet decidedly propulsive swing. Russell's music clearly stimulates the players to deliver their best.