Leon Russell

For a couple of decades beginning in the late '50s, Leon Russell's imprint was on a broad swath of rock and pop, fueling his top-hatted persona as the Master of Space and Time. He was the very definition of the supersession musician, a multi-instrumentalist who also wrote, arranged, produced, and put together bands for some of the era's highest profile tours. In one capacity or another, Russell worked with Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Phil Spector, the Byrds, Herb Alpert, and Willie Nelson, among legions. He was part of the star-packed Delaney and Bonnie's Friends Tour, played on George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh, and led the band on Joe Cocker's epic Mad Dogs and Englishman tour. Russell's early-'70s albums were critical and popular hits, featuring his Oklahoma drawl and potent blend of rock, gospel, swampy country, and soul, spinning off such songs as the widely covered "A Song for You," "Delta Lady" (a Cocker hit), "Tight Rope," "Superstar" (a Carpenters hit), and "This Masquerade" (a George Benson hit). Although he remained active, Russell's fortunes and fame faded dramatically in subsequent decades. But in 2010 Elton John, who praised Russell as a key inspiration, helped spark a Russell revival by collaborating on a duet album, The Union. Produced by T Bone Burnett, and peppered with the likes of Jim Keltner, Neil Young, Marc Ribot, and Booker T. Jones, the album's rootsy Elton-Leon piano and vocal duels spurred both to levels of artistic assurance neither had approached in some time. The bristling "Hearts Have Turned to Stone" in particular sounds like an outtake from one of Russell's prime albums. Russell, still a savvy musical conjurer, here will be backed by a quartet. $35-$50. 7:30 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674.
Wed., Aug. 29, 7 p.m., 2012

 
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