In 1953 George Alan Russell published The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization. By virtue of this work Russell carved out a unique niche for himself in the history of jazz, his opus representing the first theoretical work to come out of the jazz tradition. The purpose of this paper is to define his place in jazz history and to offer a biographical sketch off jazz’s first and most important theorist. My points of departure will be references made to Russell in two widely read works—Gunther Schuller’s Early Jazz and Wilfrid Meliers’ Music in a New Found Land. Both works stand in need of critical commentary.



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