Published Jul 29, 2009Jazz composer George Russell, best known for influencing the work of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, has died at the age of 86 due to complications from Alzheimer's.
Russell taught at the New England Music Conservatory in his later years, but rose to jazz fame when he wrote "Cubano Be/Cubano Bop," an Afro-Cuban jazz fusion, for Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra in 1947. The piece debuted at Carnegie Hall.
In 1953, Russell developed the Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, which is widely regarded as the first theoretical jazz contribution, involving a scale that sounds in closest unity with the harmonic genre of any traditionally definable chord.
From 1960 onwards, Russell led his own six-piece band in the New York area and on the jazz festival circuit. He also toured with his band through the Midwest and Europe.
Russell had recently received a "Living Jazz Legends" award from the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Artists in Washington, DC. The award was presented to him on March 3.
Russell passed away Monday (July 27) in Boston and is survived by his wife, son and three grandchildren.