Hal Russell

  • Hal Russell

In August I DJed between sets at a Hideout show by a terrific group led by bassist Harrison Bankhead. One of my selections was intended to tweak reedist Mars Williams, a member of the band: “Raining Violets,” the opening track from the Hal Russell NRG Ensemble’s brilliant Hal on Earth. The album was originally issued by the band as a cassette in 1989, but it was released on CD in 1995 by Abduction Records, a defunct Seattle imprint that once released copious amounts of music by Sun City Girls. Williams immediately recognized the track—as a longtime member of the NRG Ensemble, he played on it—and broke into a wide grin. In fact, it seemed like a third of the crowd noticed too—but sadly, Russell, who died in 1992 at age 66, is too often missing from accounts of the 90s free-jazz scene in Chicago.