July 27, 2009
21 years with one of the most amazing jazz composers, I am revisiting the things he taught me one by one.
The first thing comes to mind about what I learned from him was, regardless you are student or professional, if you don't play great, you are nothing.
George loved who plays with passion. When he likes someone blowing his/her solo with high energy, George walks up and starts screaming "Go! Go! Go!".
The first time I met George was fall, 1987 when I started my Master's degree at the New England Conservatory of Music. Coming from Classical music background, even though I was playing blues guitar as a hobby, I knew nothing about jazz. Obviously I didn't know who George Russell was.
The New England Conservatory of Music, where George and I taught, gave a memorial concert on Friday, October 2, 2009. It took me a while for me to write about it because it brought me so much memories.
I was lucky to teach at NEC because of George. Right after I came to study at NEC, I was fascinated with George's music, and became his TA. When I finished my Masters Degree in 1990, George went to his sabbatical, and NEC hired me to teach his ensemble classes and his jazz orchestra. This comes with much more stories but I will save them to later.
Ever since I came to the US, we always had Thanksgiving at George Russell's house. His beautiful wife, Alice cooked amazing feast. In the early years, Jimmy Giuffre and Ran Blake were with us. Drinking and talk music till very late. I learned a lot. Later years the party got smaller and smaller but it was something to look forward to.
This is the second Thanksgiving without George, turkey, pie. I feel somewhat empty. All what I did today was to install and configure Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro.
A little over a month ago, I went to check out Ron Carter's performance at Berklee. It was quite something, even though I really miss his amazing time feel when he walks. He doesn't walk anymore.