Russell Malone, Smooth and Soulful Jazz Master

Russell Malone is jazz guitarist born 1963 in Albany, GA. He’s mostly a self-taught guitarist having been influenced by B.B. King as a kid but was heavily impacted musically at 12 yrs. old when he saw George Benson perform on television. He began working with the great jazz organist, Jimmy Smith in 1988 and went on to work with Harry Connick, Jr. and jazz pianist/vocalist Diana Krall throughout the 1990s.

I first heard of Russell Malone when when of my students some years back brought in a recording of one of his songs that he wanted to learn. I was immediately impressed with Malone’s playing. It had elements that reminded me of Joe Pass and George Benson. His style was very smooth and tasteful. He’s recorded extensively, not only on his own albums as a leader but also on many others as well.

Malone has also toured extensively throughout his career. He’s toured with Ron Carter, Roy Hargrove, and Dianne Reeves and has done session work with Kenny Barron, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Jack McDuff, Mulgrew Miller, and Eddie Vinson. He recorded his first solo album in 1992 and has led his own trio and quartet. Other guest appearances have included Malone with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and pianist Hank Jones in celebration of his 90th birthday. In October 2008 he performed in a duo with guitarist Bill Frisell at Yoshi’s in Oakland, California. During the next year, Malone became a member of the band for saxophonist Sonny Rollins, celebrating his 80th birthday in New York City.

For those who love smooth, soulful jazz and also have an appreciation for the mastery of the guitar, pick up some of Russell Malone’s albums. Also check out some of the work he’s done with Diane Krall.

Following is a list of his own recordings under his leadership.

Russell Malone (Columbia, 1992)
Black Butterfly (Columbia, 1993)
Wholly Cats (Venus, 1995 [1999])
Sweet Georgia Peach (Impulse!, 1998)
Look Who’s Here (Verve, 2000)
Heartstrings (Verve, 2001)
Ray Brown/Monty Alexander/Russell Malone (Telarc, 2002)
Jazz at the Bistro with Benny Green (Telarc, 2003)
Bluebird with Benny Green (Telarc, 2004)
Playground (Maxjazz, 2004)
Live at Jazz Standard Vol. One (Maxjazz, 2006)
Live at Jazz Standard Vol. Two (Maxjazz, 2007)
Triple Play (Maxjazz, 2010)
Love Looks Good on You (HighNote, 2015)
All About Melody (HighNote, 2016)
Time for the Dancers (HighNote, 2017)


About Jimmy Cruz

I'm a professional musician, music teacher, husband, Dad, & Grandpa. I'm passionate about teaching & helping folks discover the joy of playing and excelling as musicians. I'm married to my beautiful wife, Cheryl. We have 5 adult kids & 2 sweet grandchildren. My wife and I are members of the First Baptist Church of Eagles Landing. I enjoy time with my wife, family, Christian fellowship, reading, writing/performing music and physical fitness.