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NRG Ensemble

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Multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Hal Russell was a key figure in the free jazz movement from its beginnings in the late '50s through the '80s. Russell is most closely associated with the Chicago free jazz scene and, from the late '70s on, he headed a quintet and a trio in what he called NRG Ensembles. The incompetence of the group's original saxophonist led Russell to take up saxophone himself (at the age of 50), and he became an enthusiastic performer on tenor and soprano. (Russell also played drums [his original instrument], trumpet, piano, and vibraphone.) In 1991, ECM Records recognized what had previously been an underground success by releasing the live Finnish/Swiss Tour by an NRG Ensemble that comprised Russell and longtime associates Mars Williams (best known for his work with the Psychedelic Furs), Steve Hunt, Brian Sandstrom, and Kent Kessler. Russell continued to alternate between solo work (notably Hal's Bells) and the NRG Ensembles till his death in 2005. ~ Rovi Staff

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Birth Name:

Harold Russell Luttenbacher


Detroit, MI

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s