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Album Review

Recorded two months after Hal's Bells, it was if Russell knew something and tried to get as much recording as possible done before he died. Sadly, he died a mere five weeks after recording this amazing record. Constructed as an aural autobiography, The Hal Russell Story combines a stream-of-consciousness narrative with some rock-solid jazzified blowing and dissonant free playing. The main body of the piece is made up of numerous short segments, some under a minute, but the ebb and flow of the songs is so smooth and effortless, you'll never realize that you're listening to so many short tracks. As usual, Russell's band the NRG ensemble kicks ass and takes names, blowing with so much intensity and power it's astonishing. Adding to this wonderful (if bittersweet) recording is the inclusion of a rollicking version of the Fleetwood Mac chestnut "Oh Well," which Russell claims he'd never heard before (and I believe him). It would be great if Hal Russell were still around serving up his wonderfully skewed jazz-rock, but this is as wonderful and fitting an epitaph as one could hope for.

The Hal Russell Story, Brian Sandstrom
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