Album release: Aztec Jazz by Tom Russell
Label: Proper Records
Release date: 1 July 2013

For over three decades and 28 album releases Tom Russell has continued to live up to his status as“one of our greatest songwriters of our time.” (Washington Post) His last two releases, Blood and Candle Smoke (2009) and Mesabi (2011), are considered his strongest composed works yet and were, in part, recorded with the groundbreaking roots band Calexico.

Years ago Russell and Dave Alvin, were tagged as the architects of what came to be known as “Americana” music, with their Merle Haggard tribute “Tulare Dust,” the record which initiated the Americana charts in America, and remained number one for a year.  Aztec Jazz moves Americana into a new realm.

Aztec Jazz was recorded as a live concert in Halden, Norway in May of 2012 with the world-renown 32 piece Norwegian Wind Ensemble and guitarist Thad Beckman. Russell’s classic songs - St. Olav’s Gate, Nina Simone, Guadalupe, Stealing Electricity, Goodnight Juarez and others - are performed on acoustic guitars against a lush backdrop of oboes, trumpets, saxophones, French horns, trombones and percussion. This larger, ethereal canvas brings Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain to mind. The award-winning Swedish composer Mats Halling wrote the orchestral parts.

Tom Russell’s songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Doug Sahm, Nanci Griffith, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dave Alvin, Joe Ely and others. He has written two acclaimed folk operas (The Man From God Knows Where and Hotwalker) and composed movie scores, including the songs for the new Monte Hellman movie The Road Nowhere. He’s also published five books, most recently 120 Songs of Tom Russell. His paintings are featured in Blue Horse/Red Desert: The Art of Tom Russell. Aztec Jazz moves Russell’s acclaimed song catalogue into newly charted territory.

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