In 2001 this young British tenor became an international phenomenon with his platinum-plus debut album THE VOICE. With that blockbuster recording, he defined himself as the pop-opera crossover sensation of the 21st century. The appropriately titled follow-up ENCORE will likely be regarded with suspicion by those with their feet planted firmly in either the pop or operatic world. Those whose tastes fall somewhere in between are exactly the folks who've already made him a superstar, and it is for them that ENCORE was made.
This is another fabulous album from Russell, with all the favourites and a bonus live recording from the Royal Albert Hall. Anyone who enjoys the pure class of a brilliant operatic voice, will not be disappointed, by this marvellous mix of tracks.
Remastered in 24-bit from the original master tapes. Part of our Keepnews Collection, which spotlights classic albums originally produced by the legendary and arguably the most respected of all jazz producers, Orrin Keepnews. George Russell is listed in the Encyclopedia of Jazz as "composer, piano, educator" and all of these are accurate descriptions of this dynamic musical revolutionary.
It's a shame this and the earlier Classics collection split up the bandleader's prime 1930 recordings, but such is the way of a strictly chronological series. Those wanting just one disc that covers most of Russell's best work will want to pick up JSP's Savoy Shout disc, which includes 22 cuts from 1929-1930. But for collectors in need of all of the recordings Russell cut before Louis Armstrong practically swallowed up his band whole in 1934, the two Classics discs will certainly do the trick. And while this later disc pales a bit to the 1926-1930 collection, its first half does feature classic work from Russell's band and its spin-off combo, J.C. Higginbotham and His Six Hicks. Along with Higginbotham's own irrepressible trombone work, these sides also offer a wealth of solo treats from such band standouts as trumpeter Henry Allen and saxophonists Charlie Holmes and Albert Nicholas. The later 1931 and 1934 recordings might not match up to earlier classics like "Panama" and "Song of the Swanee," but they still include enough fine performances amongst the filler to keep the quality level up. A worthwhile disc, but one that's probably best suited for Russell completists.
Longtime readers of Frontier Partisans know that Tom Russell is a giant in my pantheon of storytellers. His music has been the soundtrack for many an adventure down dusty desert roads and mountain trails, and he’s a key influence on my own songwriting and music. I learned to fingerpick because he said I should — and just as he promised, it opened new textures in both my playing and writing.