Home » Jazz Musicians » Russell Malone

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. Along the way, Malone has made a name for himself combining the bluesy sound of Grant Green and Kenny Burrell with the relentless attack of Django Reinhardt and Pat Martino. After hearing Malone play in Connick's band, former Sony head, Tommy Mottola, brought Malone over to Columbia. Malone's self-titled debut, Russell Malone, in 1992 quickly went to #1 on the radio charts. This album has Malone playing Electric, Acoustic, and Classical guitars. It also features Harry Connick Jr. on piano, his current employer at the time, joking around on "I Don't Know Enough About You," a vocal piece by Malone, not Connick. Russell Malone was quickly followed by his second album, Black Butterfly in 1993, with Paul Keller on Bass, who later became his trio mate with Diana Krall.

Read more

Tags

"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

Read more

Photos

Concerts

Mar 23 Sat
Mar 23 Sat
Mar 24 Sun
Mar 24 Sun

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Cantaloupe Island

Jazz Avenue 1
2023

buy

Pieces of Treasure

Modern Recordings
2023

buy

Honoring Pat Martino,...

HighNote Records
2022

buy

Reminiscing at Rudy's

HighNote Records
2022

buy

Love Letter

Verve Music Group
2020

buy

Trying Times

Concord Music Group
2020

buy

Videos

Similar

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.