George Russell: Manhattan
George Russell (leader)
New York, N.Y. (Impulse IMPD-278)
Doc Severinsen, Ernie Royal (trumpets), Tom Mitchell (trombone), Hal McKusick (alto sax), Sol Schlinger (baritone sax), Barry Galbraith (guitar), Milt Hinton (bass), Charlie Persip (drums).
Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart. Arranged by George Russell.
Recorded: New York, September 12, 1958
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
George Russell's album-length tribute to New York City remains a major work of the period and one of his most important projects. This track opens with Jon Hendricks and drums extolling the city, and then Russell begins his exploration of "Manhattan," the only explicit statement of the melody being his use of the song's first five notes. Solos are by Brookmeyer, Brookmeyer and Rehak alternating, and Evans (how wonderful to hear him in a large ensemble setting this early in his career). Then a most extraordinary thing happens. From out of a transition by the band, John Coltrane sings out in a solo so arresting that the rest of the track (which has a Farmer solo later) is almost anticlimactic. Coltrane requested a break in the session to go over the chord changes, and the result is gripping and powerful. Trane later told Russell that he didn't like this solo. Amazing!!! (For the musically inclined, the full story of this solo can be found in Russell's textbook Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization.)
Reviewer: Jeff Sultanof