Born: April 30, 1968 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Saxophonist and composer RUSS NOLAN hails from Gurnee, IL, a near Chicago suburb. Through the first half of his life, it was not music that was his passion, but athletics. Practicing his jump shot and fastball as much as a prodigy puts time into their musical instrument, it was his dream to play professional sports. It was only after high school that he was bitten by the proverbial jazz bug. This new infection led him to study at the widely acclaimed music department at North Texas State University and spent his summers at the feet of Chicago Saxophone Legends Joe Daley and Rich Corpolongo.
Returning home after school, Russ was active for over ten years on the Chicago music scene, absorbing the music and rubbing shoulders with the world-class touring groups at Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase--as well as appearing as a sideman in the club himself on occasion; sitting in with Lin Haliday at the Get Me High Lounge and the legendary Von Freeman at the New Apartment Lounge; leading his own groups at the Bop Shop w/guitarist John McLean, the Get Me High Lounge, Martyrs and the Green Mill; collaborating with Violinist Zach Brock at the Hot House, Pete Miller’s, Katerina’s and the Jazz Showcase; and playing in Kurt Elling's orchestra for Chicago’s Millennium Celebration.
Nolan’s big band arrangements of Kenny Garrett and Pat Metheny compositions (originally written for the One and Two O’Clock Lab Bands at NTSU) have been performed across the United States.
Always focused on musical growth, Russ has had personal study with David Liebman, Chris Potter, and Kenny Werner.
Continuing to true his metal with fire, Russ made the trek to pay the toughest dues of all… the Big Apple. Since arriving in March 2002, Russ has begun to emerge as a bandleader, performing in various New York City jazz clubs and other performance venues.
Russ is very committed to keeping jazz alive, and as a result, has an extensive tour in 2005-2006 conducting clinics and adjudicating jazz festivals at the college, high school, and middle school level.
Drawing from his education at the University of North Texas, where he played in the 2:00 Lab band and wrote big band arrangements for the renowned 1:00 Lab Band, Russ is an active clinician in jazz education. He conducts jazz improvisation, big band arranging, and jazz composition workshops at both the college and high school level. Russ taught jazz improvisation for three years at the award-winning jazz program of New Trier High School, Winnetka, IL, led by Jim Warrick.
Unique to most professional musicians, Russ has also attained ten years of professional sales experience, five of which has been in Music Marketing. In addition to teaching music itself, he can guide students in negotiating the ever-changing music business to their advantage by learning the basics of sales and marketing and how to apply it to the industry.
"Russ Nolan was prepared, organized, articulate, and passionate in his improvisation clinic with our students of varying abilities. He purposely creates situations where students actively participate in the learning process, thus generating a very effective learning experience!" --Mary Jo Papich, IAJE President