Music George Russell and the Living Time Orchestra The Forum, Bath

'The musicians responded with the necessary fireworks and the concert ended with a bang'

The American composer George Russell is celebrated as a kind of jazz version of Sir Alf Ramsey. Back in the Fifties he invented a tactical system for improvisers that changed the rules of the game, making modes derived from scales replace chords - the jazz counterpart to wingers - as the principal units of exchange in his new method. This allowed (or so the theorists reckon) soloists like Miles Davis and John Coltrane to become a strike force unlike any known before, free to concentrate on melody as much as they liked without being imprisoned within the same sequence of chords. Unlike Alf, Russell's revolution did not win him much glory and it is only in the past decade or so that he has begun to achieve the fame he deserves, after being consigned for years - like many an unsuccessful English manager - to a period of wilderness in the training grounds of Scandinavia.

Now a sprightly 73, and dressed like a very hip pensioner, Russell is basking in the late glow of fame. After touring Britain a number of times in the past with an excellent version of his orchestra made up largely of British players, he has, for this latest Contemporary Music Network tour, brought over a few more members of his American band, including the trumpeter Stanton Davis, who first recorded with him in Norway in 1970, to mix with the best of the locals, like Andy Sheppard, Chris Biscoe and Steve Lodder. Possibly because of the new band structure, this performance paid more attention to the compositions than it did to free-flowing blowing, and Russell's complex, multi-layered works, like "Living Time", seemed to be treated with too much respect for their own good.

In the second half, however, things started to loosen up. On "American Trilogy" (not the Elvis number), the simple melody of "You Are My Sunshine" (a Russell favourite since the album The Outer View in 1962, when it was a feature for Eric Dolphy) was brazenly deconstructed by trumpeter Davis and trombonist Dave Bargeron before re-emerging as a first-line New Orleans anthem. From then on, in a new commission entitled "It's About Time", Russell gave his musicians their heads, pointing at a soloist as if lighting the blue touch paper and then standing well back to admire the resulting explosion. Sheppard and Chris Biscoe on saxes, Tiger Okoshi on trumpet and Mike Walker on guitar responded with the necessary fireworks and the concert ended with a bang.

Unlike Sir Alf, Russell appeared to be profoundly moved by the ecstatic response of the crowd. As far as I'm aware, Ramsey never did a funky little dance along the touchline when his wingless wonders scored, either. More's the pity.

PHIL JOHNSON

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border