Russ Kaplan is a musical storyteller. A creatively restless composer and versatile keyboardist, his diverse musical obsessions have led him through the worlds of jazz, rock, and theatre music. His newest project is a band that brings all these elements seamlessly together - a postmodern jazz supergroup known simply as Russ Kaplan + 7. Taking Jazz into a high-concept narrative realm, RK+7 tells fantastic stories through Kaplan’s evocative compositions, which draw on influences from dixieland jazz to ambient rock.
Kaplan's debut album as a bandleader - The Ulysses Cycle - is a 20-song narrative suite based on Homer's Odyssey. Russ had been searching for a story to musicalize that would allow him to compose in all of the eclectic styles that fascinate him, and which captures the ideals he loves best about playing jazz: spontaneity, excitement, thinking on your feet. The Odyssey, which tells the tale of a cunning hero traveling through exotic lands as he struggles home from war, was clearly the perfect fit.
Russ originally studied Theater Directing at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama, where he also studied Jazz performance with legendary saxophonist Eric Kloss. In New York he has played with a diverse array of Rock, Jazz and Americana bands, as well as composing music for the hit Off-Broadway musical In Transit. The amazing players that bring Russ' tunes to life are trumpet player Jonathan Powell (Eddie Palmieri, Blitz the Ambassador), saxophonists Kyle Saulnier (Awakening Orchestra) and Mike McGinnis (Stu and the Negro Problem, The Four Bags), guitarist Tom Gavin (Moore & Sons), bassist Moppa Elliott (Mostly Other People Do the Killing), drummer Wayan Zoey (The Funk Ark), and percussionist Rohin Khemani (Red Baraat).