The LCCOTO - George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization

Andy Wasserman
Submitted: Mon, April 16, 2018 - 9:33am EDT
George Russell's book, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization (LCCOTO), was the first theoretical contribution to come from jazz - introducing modal improvisation - resulted in the seminal recording of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue."

The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization resonates supreme at the epicenter of George Russell's prodigious life work. This innovative band leader, influential composer, legendary educator and philosophically profound master of music devoted 50 years of tireless, purposeful development in forging and generously disseminating his visionary theoretical system. Maestro Russell's singular world-renowned theory reveals an objective, illuminating vista of interrelated and boundless insights into what music is telling us about its own innate nature and reciprocal architectonics.

"The Concept" establishes an open-ended, pan-stylistic foundation in which levels of tonal gravity act as prime, integral moving forces within music.

George Russell stood tall and resolute as a vertical man, meaning he acknowledged, listened to, and gave his undivided attention to a potent transforming magnetic center within. It is this deeply meaningful internal process - his essence - which guided him each and every day. A very high level of integrity, refinement and excellence prevailed in his life. Beauty, truth and goodness took precedent above and beyond anything else.

An influential and authentically innovative figure in the evolution of modern Jazz, George Russell (June 23, 1923 – July 27, 2009) was one of its greatest composers, and its most important theorist. His The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, first published in 1953, is credited as a great pathbreaker into modal music, as pioneered by Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

Most of Jazz music’s most important developments since the 1950s — from modal improvisation to electronics, African polyrhythms to free form, atonality to jazz rock — were taken to another level by Russell’s pioneering work. Russell's Living Time Orchestra has performed throughout the world, including the Barbican Centre and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the Festival d’Automne and Cîté de la Musique in Paris, and Tokyo Music Joy. His career as a leader includes major label releases on LP and CD of more than 30 recordings, working with such musicians as Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and Jan Garbarek.

Among Russell's awards are the following:

  • the MacArthur Fellowship "Genius" Grant
  • the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) American Jazz Master Award
  • two Guggenheim Fellowships in Music Composition
  • six NEA grants
  • three Grammy nominations
  • the American Music Award
  • the British Jazz Award
  • the Kennedy Center Living Jazz Legend Award
  • the Swedish Jazz Federation Lifetime Achievement Award
  • election to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music

The latest edition of George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept - The Art and Science of Tonal Gravity (fourth and final edition, 2001 in Hardcover only) can be purchased directly from CONCEPT PUBLISHING through

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Full-time professional musician and educator Andy Wasserman gives personal, customized one-on-one Piano Lessons Online for students around the world, and in-person in the Chester, New Jersey 07930 vicinity. Beginner through advanced levels, all styles. Certified instructor of George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization. Wasserman's primary aim is to maintain the integrity, authenticity and purity of George Russell's life's work by dedicating the transmission of its invaluable innovation explicitly as Russell and his wife Alice Norbury Russell intended it to be shared - thereby respecting and honoring his monumental legacy for future generations. View his profile on this site or on his official websites at and or Check out his YOUTUBE channeL

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