Russell Malone

Russell Malone's first guitar was a plastic green toy his mother bought him. Only four years old, Malone strummed the little guitar all day long for days on end trying to emulate the sounds he had heard from guitarists at church in Albany, Georgia. As a child, Malone developed an interest in blues and country music after seeing musicians on television like Chet Atkins, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Roy Clark, Son Seals, and B.B. King. Then, at age 12, he saw George Benson perform with Benny Goodman on Soundstage. Malone has said, “I knew right then and there that I wanted to play this music.”

A self-taught player, Malone progressed well enough to land a gig with master organist Jimmy Smith when he was 25. “It made me realize that I wasn't as good as I thought I was,” Malone recalls of his first on-stage jam with Smith. After two years with Smith, he went on to join Harry Connick Jr.'s orchestra, a position he held from 1990-94, appearing on three of Connick''s recordings. Malone also worked in a variety of contexts, performing with artists as diverse as Clarence Carter, Little Anthony, Peabo Bryson, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Barron, Roy Hargrove, Branford and Wynton Marsalis, The Winans, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Jack McDuff.

Malone is one of the most commanding and versatile guitarists performing. He can move from blues to gospel to pop to R&B and jazz without hesitation, a rare facility that has prompted some of the highest profile artists in the world to call upon him: Diana Krall, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Natalie Cole, David Sanborn, Shirley Horn, Christina Aguilera, Harry Connick, Jr, Ron Carter, and Sonny Rollins.

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”Russell Malone’s lyrical guitar work has projected him into the mainstream of jazz guitar. Having dazzling technique erupt at will, as well as melodic, mellow ballad material, Malone shows extraordinary skill across his six strings. His skillful interpretations stir the imagination while igniting the soul.” —Jazz St. Louis

Lyricism remains a vital part of Malone's music, and he certainly has achieved a unique guitar voice in jazz's mainstream. His powerful technique erupts when he wants it to, while his warm and mellow ballad material rests comfortably on yearning ears.” —Jim Santella, All About Jazz

“Where Russell Malone channeled Grant Green on the first half of this live set, Live at The Jazz Standard, Volume 1, the guitarist comes fully into his own on Live at The Jazz Standard, Volume 2

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