Russell Malone (born November 8, 1963) is an essentially self-taught swing and bebop jazz guitarist. He began working with Jimmy Smith in 1988, and went on to work with Harry Connick, Jr. and Diana Krall throughout the 1990s
Malone was born in Albany, Georgia. He began playing at the age of four with a toy guitar his mother had bought him, influenced by musicians such as B.B. King and The Dixie Hummingbirds. However, he cites that the most influential musical experience he had as a youth was “[At the age of twelve] seeing George Benson perform on television…with Benny Goodman.” He learned technique from listening to recordings of Benson, Wes Montgomery, and Charlie Christian, among others.
Malone played with jazz organist Jimmy Smith from 1988 to 1990. He then joined the Harry Connick Jr. Big Band from 1989 to 1994. In 1995, Malone became part of the Diana Krall trio, participating in three Grammy-nominated albums, the final one in 1999, When I Look in Your Eyes, winning Best Vocal Jazz Performance. Malone was part of jazz pianist Benny Green’s recordings in the late 1990s and 2000: Kaleidoscope (1997), These Are Soulful Days (1999), and Naturally (2000). The two formed a duo partnership, releasing the live recording, Jazz at The Bistro in 2003, and the studio recording Bluebird in 2004. The duo toured until 2007.
Malone tours regularly as leader of The Russell Malone Quartet, and more recently in support of “Triple Play” (2010) of the Russell Malone Trio. When touring the US, Canada, Japan, and Europe, South America, and Australia, he can be seen in appearances with Dianne Reeves and Romero Lubambo and tours frequently with bassist Ron Carter as part of the Golden Striker Trio that often featured Mulgrew Miller on piano. Other special guest appearances have included Malone with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, pianist Hank Jones (in celebration of his 90th birthday). October, 2008, found Russell Malone in duo at Yoshi’s in Oakland, California, with fellow jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. The duo toured once again in February 2009, in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. In 2010, Malone became a member of the band for saxophonist Sonny Rollins, (celebrating his 80th birthday in New York in September).
Malone recorded live on September 9–11, 2005, at Jazz Standard, New York City, and Maxjazz released Live at Jazz Standard, Volume One (2006) and Live at Jazz Standard, Volume Two (2007). Appearing on these two volumes, and touring as The Russell Malone Quartet, were Martin Bejerano on piano, Tassili Bond on bass, and Johnathan Blake on drums. Malone’s 2010 recording Triple Play (also on Maxjazz) was pianoless, featuring David Wong on bass, and Montez Coleman on drums.
- We Are In Love with Harry Connick, Jr., Grammy Award Winner (1991)
- Russell Malone (COLUMBIA – 1992)
- I Heard You Twice the First Time with Branford Marsalis, Grammy Award Winner (1992)
- Black Butterfly (COLUMBIA – 1993)
- Habana with Roy Hargrove’s CRISOL, Latin Jazz Grammy Award Winner (1997)
- Sweet Georgia Peach (IMPULSE! – 1998)
- Wholly Cats (VENUS – 1999)
- When I Look In Your Eyes with Diana Krall, Jazz Vocal Grammy Award Winner (1999)
- Look Who’s Here (VERVE – 2000)
- Heartstrings (VERVE – 2001)
- Jazz at the Bistro [with Benny Green] (Telarc – 2003)
- Bluebird [with Benny Green] (Telarc – 2004)
- Playground (MAXJAZZ – 2004)
- Live At Jazz Standard, Volume One (MAXJAZZ – 2006)
- Live At Jazz Standard, Volume Two (MAXJAZZ – 2007)
- Portrait Northwestern State University Jazz Ensemble featuring Russell Malone (2009)
- Jazz In The Key Of Blue with The Jimmy Cobb Quartet, with Roy Hargrove, Trumpet, and John Webber, Bass (2009)
- Triple Play (MAXJAZZ – 2010)