Guitarist Ray Russell has been a professional musician since he was 15 and he joined the John Barry Seven (famous for their James Bond soundtracks). Not hugely known to the general public, for nearly six decades he has worked with artists as diverse as Nucleus, Gil Evans, Van Morrison, Cat Stevens, Bill Fay, Jack Bruce, Michael Gibbs, Tina Turner, Bryan Ferry and many, many others. His wide-ranging solo career got into gear during the late 60s and can be viewed as a simultaneous and wilder variant of the same path towards electric jazz that Miles Davis and others took during this time, releasing a number of very collectable and ahead of their time albums, and becoming one of the earliest truly 'out' guitarists of the late 60s in the process.
"Not only is the guitar playing inventive and intuitive but the interaction between horns and the rhythm section is muscular and supportive. Given the nature of this proceeding, a large band playing live with scant arrangements, deep listening was required by all participants. The disaster quotient was high, but The Celestial Squid delivers the opposite in spades. It is a welcome return to the athletic fringes for Russell and one of the most inspired and striking of Kaiser's two-guitar encounters to date." – All Music Guide
THE CELESTIAL SQUAD
(with Henry Kaiser)
Guitar summits don't ascend higher than when legendary British free-jazz pioneer and longtime session ace Ray Russell meets the brilliant California avant-improv overachiever and Antarctic diver Henry Kaiser in the realm of The Celestial Squid.
With more than countless session and soundtrack performances to his
credit, including the early James Bond film scores, Russell is
returning to his bone-rattling, noise-rocking roots for the first time
since the very early 70s. You'll be shaken and stirred as Kaiser,
Russell and eight super friends deliver a no-holds-barred, free-range
sonic cage match.
Robin Aspland - Fender Rhodes piano and Hammond B3 organ [1/8]
Goodbye Svengali is influenced by and dedicated to visionary jazz arranger Gil Evans, and includes one of Gil's final recordings. It is an album that mixes dark fusion, lyrical guitar pieces and icy soundscapes. Ray's playing style can be compared to such great players as Sonny and Terje, as Jim noted, but also to John McLaughlin, John Abercrombie and Jeff Beck! Includes performances by noted U.K. fusion/rock players such as Mo Foster, Gary Husband, Tony Hymas, Simon Phillips and others.
"Ray Russell’s back with his first solo record in 14 years and, man, it’s good. What began as an idea for a series of duets expanded into a much grander project. From a lovely Goodbye Pork Pie Hat with just Russell and Gil Evans (recorded back in the eighties) to the out-and-out rock of Blaize, this is a staggeringly wide-ranging album. There’s some of the free jazz/rock Russell pioneered in the sixties and seventies on Everywhere and in the wild guitar/drums section on the title track. But there’s also a softer, tender side present on Without a Trace and Wailing Wall and a filmic quality to So Far Away. Yet it never sounds cluttered or fragmented. Instead it moves always easily and convincingly through styles and modes. It’s Russell’s sound that dominates but that takes nothing from the bravura playing of Gary Husband and, Russell’s daughter, Amy Baldwin (fabulous on double bass) or from Miles Evans’ touchingly emotional trumpet on Goodbye Svengali. Fusion or jazz/rock rarely sounds this good." – Jazzwise/Duncan Heining
Goodbye Svengali press release
Goodbye Svengali press release