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Anniversary Archive Compositions Electronic Memoir Postclassical

Birthday Music

Today would have been the 85th birthday of my father Samuel Lawrence (Larry) Russell. He died two months short of his 65th, so this year is also the twentieth anniversary of his passing. Although as a transracial adoptee I have travelled on an outlying cultural path from that of my adoptive family, they are the original source of love in my life.

If my father was a little out of his era and his element in following what I did as a young musician—his natural musical heroes were Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra and Buddy Holly—he always had time to listen to whatever seemingly strange, novice piece I was working on and the even stranger theory behind it. He would encourage me and then gently mention “making it accessible.”


I don’t know what he would have made of Birthday Music, one of a number of pieces I composed and dedicated to him in the year after his death. Created for my demo reel as a composer for dance, it’s an admittedly bizarre concoction incorporating just intonation tuning, drones, my quirky programming style and the strongest evidence of Steve Reich’s influence on my work. With all that in the mix, I still relied on good-old, I-VI-I-V-I blues structure in the bassline, and a snare-kick backbeat, albeit in 3/2 time.

For Larry, with love

Composed and recorded on a Korg M1 workstation, May 31, 1993

Music and composer’s notes copyright Bruce Russell 2013

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Composers Electronic Funk Jazz Lists Performers Pop Postclassical R&B

Best of 2011/2012

The past 24 months have been full of wonderful blessings and have witnessed the happiest period of my life so far. Alhamdulillah, for all that has been given.

It thus seems fitting to me, in doing a best of list, to look at the last two years as a whole. Here’s what has brought (re)new(ed)ness to the personal soundtrack, in no particular order (other than stream of consciousness)…

Returnings: Music of Ann Southam – Eve Egoyan, piano (Centrediscs, 2011)

Glass Houses Revisited – music of Ann Southam; Christina Petrowska Quilico, piano (Centrediscs, 2011)

Soundings for a New Piano – music of Ann Southam; R. Andrew Lee, piano (Irritable Hedgehog, 2011)

Jürg Frey: Piano Music – R. Andrew Lee, piano (Irritable Hedgehog, 2012)

The Northern Shore – music of Barbara Monk Feldman; Sabat/Clarke and Aki Takahashi (Mode, 2012)

Undercurrents: CONTACT Performs the Music of Jordan Nobles – CONTACT Contemporary Music (Redshift, 2011)

Until the Quiet Comes – Flying Lotus (Warp, 2012)

Seeds – Georgia Anne Muldrow (Someothaship CONNECT, 2012)

Radio Music Society – Esperanza Spalding (Heads Up International, 2012)

Black Radio – Robert Glasper Experiment (Blue Note, 2012)

Brand New Wayo: Funk, Fast Times & Nigerian Boogie Madness 1979-1983 – Various Artists (Comb & Razor, 2011)

Music of Vladimir Martynov – Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch, 2012)

WTC 9/11, Mallet Quartet, Dance Patterns – music of Steve Reich; Kronos Quartet, Sō Percussion, Steve Reich & Musicians (Nonesuch, 2011)

Symphony No. 9 – music of Philip Glass; Bruckner Orchester Linz, Dennis Russell Davies, conductor (Orange Mountain, 2012)

Seeing is Believing – music of Nico Muhly, William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons; Thomas Gould, violin; Aurora Orchestra, Nicholas Collon, conductor (Decca, 2011)

Adam’s Lament – music of Arvo Pärt; Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis, Sinfonietta Riga, Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor (ECM, 2012)

Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima / Popcorn Superhet Receiver / Polymorphia / 48 Responses to Polymorphia – music of Krzysztof Penderecki and Jonny Greenwood; AUKSO Orchestra, Krzysztof Penderecki and Marek Moś, conductors (Nonesuch, 2012)

Son of Chamber Symphony / String Quartet – music of John Adams; International Contemporary Ensemble, John Adams, conductor and St. Lawrence String Quartet (Nonesuch, 2011)

January edits:

Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons – Daniel Hope, violin; Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin, André de Ridder, conductor (Deutsche Grammophon, 2012)

Pour une âme souveraine – a Dedication to Nina Simone – Meshell Ndegeocello (naïve, 2012)

Pink – Four Tet (Text, 2012)

Happy New Year to all the readers and followers of El Mahboob, and all my best to you for 2013.

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Electronic Funk Jazz Mixtapes Podcast R&B Soundtrack

Re‧mi Do

Summer encounters.

Syreeta  |  I Love Every Little Thing About You
Mulatu Astatke  |  Mulatu
Omar  |  Music (What I Live For)
Lewis Taylor  |  Lucky
The RH Factor  |  Poetry ft. Q-Tip, Erykah Badu
DJ Mitsu The Beats  |  Right Here ft. Dwele
Chaka Khan  |  Love Has Fallen on Me
Georgia Anne Muldrow  |  Blackman
Aloe Blacc  |  Find Your Way
Sly & The Family Stone  |  Sylvester
Marvin Gaye  |  What’s Going On (instrumental)
John Williams  |  Theme from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly  |  Feel That You’re Feelin’ (New Orleans, 1980)
Dorothy Ashby  |  Wax and Wane
Esperanza Spalding  |  Sunlight
Koop  |  Whenever There Is You
Don Blackman  |  Holding You, Loving You
Four Tet  |  Angel Echoes
Jazzanova  |  Little Bird ft. Jose James
Kool & The Gang  |  Summer Madness (London, 1975)

Mixed by El Mahboob, June 2012
Dedicated to Nina & Queen Peace

Re‧mi Do
‧ an affirmation to my daughter
‧ the first three notes of the famous musical signal from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind
‧ three key signature areas (re for D/D-flat, mi for E major/minor, and do for C) where songs in the mix are grouped together. I’ve used the technique of harmonic mixing/selecting to unite or contrast songs.

The copyrights for these recordings are the intellectual property of the artists, though the corporations take the credit and the money. I own nothing. Support music.