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Thursday, August 17, 2023

School Of Rebellion - Bill Russo


The Difference

School Of Rebellion
Bill Russo and His Orchestra
Producer: Pete Kameron
Recording Supervisor: Rudy Taylor
Roulette Birdland Series R 52045

Trumpets - Burt Collins, Don Stratton, Johnny Glasel, Lou Mucci
Trombones - Bill Elton, Don Sebesky, Eddie Bert, Al Robertson
Bass Trombone - Paul Faulise
Alto Saxophones - Dick Meldonian, Tony Buoupastore
Tenor Saxophones - Larry Wilcox, Frank Socolow
Baritone Saxophone - Tony Ferina 
Cellos - Seymour Barab, Alan Shulman, Julius Ehrenwerth, Charles McCracken
Double Bass - Ira Manning
Guitar - Al Schackman
Percussion - Ed Shaughnessy

From the back cover: Rebellion is an attack on the established order and usually take one of two forms. The first destroys and negates everything and the other strips away the bad fro the old, building anew on what is worthwhile. The first annihilates and denies; the second changes and affirms. Both forms see the evil, but the first doesn't know the good. This orchestra represent a rebellion in the second sense. It is an affirmation of the world and an aspiration toward the good life.

We seek the excitement of the intellect. Discipline, technique, control and form contribute to passion. Passion cannot be separated from the mind. The Sensual contributes to the intellectual just as the intellectual contributes to the sensual. As the poet has written, the mind feels and the heart things. 

The intellect which I exalt is not the dried junk of the academy. It is not the intellect of the vested interests of culture. It is the intellect of Socrates and Voltaire and Einstein. It has fire and imagination, color and directness.

Our music is American, but in a different way that most jazz today. The America of Melville, Emerson and Thoreau is better and stronger than the America of Norma Mailer and Tennessee Williams. This is the mainstream which attracts me – an America which is fresh and new and vital and curious. There is more to this country than the city dweller, the Negro slave, the machine. There are the farms of Illinois, the precise churches of New England, remembrances of Spain in Tampa and Santa Fe and beautiful horses.

We use the transitions of Europe as we wish. Our credentials are not from Europe's institutions but we are not afraid to use anything that the world orders us.

The orchestra is a school for its composers, musicians, and listeners. In the Spring of 1957, almost two years before the first rehearsal of the orchestra, four of my most gifted students and I began to plan the music it would play, Bill Mathieu, Jerry Mulvihill, Sture Swenson and Fred Carlin have each studied with me for varying lengths of time. Now writes music like mine, except perhaps in tis ping of view. They have all been encouraged to look for new answers and new questions and they have been as much a source and inspiration for me as I could have been for them. Our music – our ideas – shaped the orchestra.

The orchestra began rehearsals on a weekly basis in January of 1959. At least half of the men who attended the first one or two rehearsals have remained with the orchestra. Several have become shy students.

The players and composers have learned much from each other. Ed Shaughnessy has taught all the writers more about percussion parts than could be put into a large text; and the men have learned many new ways of playing, especially how to play very softly and lightly. Our music requires frequent and dramatic changes of volume and many subtle distinction of articulation and fingering, and the men have picked up the new techniques. When a substitute comes to a rehearsal, he is usually intimidated by the drastically different performing art demanded by the music.

Lastly, the orchestra is a school for listeners. It teaches a new way of jazz. The lyrical and delicate is stressed, formal division are important and are clearly indicated, and the improvising soloist and the orchestra player must work within the music, rather than against it. These are characteristics not often found today and the listener must open his ears.

The instrumentation and placement of the orchestra is unusual. There are twenty-two players, including myself. To the four trumpets, five trombones, five saxophones, guitar, double bass and percussion which make up a fairly standard jazz orchestra are added four cellos, mostly for their ability to mellow the texture of such a large body of wind instruments.

The rhythm section is laid out in a line down the center of the orchestra. Each of the instrumental gourds (trumpet, trombones, etc.) is roughly divided into halves. Two trumpets are in the left choir, two in the right; three trombones are in the left choir, two in the right; two saxophones are in the left chair, three in the right; two cellos are in the left choir, two in the right. The left and right sides form two smaller orchestras and are used in this way. The two sides are played against each other, questions and answering and sometimes duplicate the other choir. This left-right idea is used as often as the more conventional division of the orchestra into instrumental groups.

It was Mort Salh's encouragement that started all this and I am also grateful to him for the title of this album – Bill Russo - New York, 1960

About Bill Russo: Bill Russo has been active in the jazz field for more than fifteen years. He headed his own groups in Chicago, where he was born, and spent the years from 1950 though 1954 with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, for which he wrote a great deal of its most important music. He has also written three ballets, three symphonies and a number of other works which are probably closer to "Classical" music than they are to jazz. His Symphony #2 in C (Titans) was commissioned by Leonard Bernstein for the New  York Philharmonic Orchestra and was subsequently awarded the Koussevisky grant. It was performed four times at Carnegie Hall in April of 1959 and received an overwhelming ovation.

The Golden Apple - Solo: Collins and Elton
Manteca - Solo: Socolow
Theme And Variations - Solo: Sebesky, Wilcox, Shaughnessy and Mucci
What Is The Difference - Solo: Barab
Introduction - Solo: Socolow (oboe) and Elton
Sonatina - Solo: Sebesky and Wilcox
Pickwick - Solo: Socolow and Sebesky (Pickwick is dedicated to Muriel Oxenburg Murphy)
Tanglewood - Solo: Meldonian (Tanglewood is dedicated to Camille Russo)
Am Esthete On Clark Street - Solo: Wilcox and Sebesky

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