William Russell was, along with his friends John Cage, Henry Cowell and Lou Harrison, one of the seminal figures in modern percussion music. Russell composed his landmark percussion during the 1930s, eventually abandoning composition to work in jazz and settle in New Orleans. He was the first composer in the western tradition to integrate African, Caribbean and Asian instruments along with found objects and the influence of jazz into his work, all the while maintaining a distinctly exuberant "American" sound.
Cage was so fond of Russell and his music that he kept the idea of reviving Russell's neglected music alive. He offered assistance towards a retrospective concert of Russell's complete works in New York in 1990 — a gala event attended by many leading figures in new music and jazz. Russell came to New York to work with Essential Music in the preparation of these works; some of which had their world premiere there, others had not been heard in almost 50 years.
Subsequently, Essential Music toured the U.S. and Europe with Russell's works to great acclaim. This CD marks the first complete recording of Russell's joyful compositions for percussion ensemble.
released February 6, 1994
John Kennedy & Charles Wood, artistic directors
Laurie Frink, trumpet (5)