Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Frank Russell

Frank Russell is a Chicago native and master bass player. He began his musical training at an early age playing drums, guitar and sax before switching to bass guitar at the age of 14. Frank has been playing it ever since, along the way working or recording with such diverse artists as The Spaniels, Dee Clark, Dee Dee Warwick, Freddie Hubbard, Ramsey Lewis, Bobby Irving (Miles Davis), Art Porter, Alphonze Mouzon, Red Holt, Mike Wolf (Arsenio Hall), Peter Erskine (Weather Report), Ken Chaney, Sugar Blue and many others.

Frank has recorded five CD’s with Chicago guitarist, Henry Johnson, whose CDs garnered five star ratings in Down Beat Magazine and received number one status in radio play across the country. Russell co-wrote the title song for Johnson’s second CD, “Future Excursions”. He also recorded a song with Johnson on a CD featuring the music of Earth, Wind & Fire, “Smooth Elements”, which includes such artists as Stanley Turrentine, Larry Coryell, Phil Perry, and Earth, Wind & Fire. He is also listed in a bass instructional book (Funk Bass by Jon Liebman) with some of the top bassists in the field.

Frank’s real love is performance where he soars. Jazz writer, Dave Freeman writes, “For the complete Frank Russell bass experience, see him live, he’s one of the escapees from Monster Bass Island.” Lazzaro Vega writes, “Frank never crossed into tasteless grand standing during his charged solos, but showed more musical worth playing his ensemble roles with verve and taste.” Frank also garnered first prize in the 1992 Hennessy best of Chicago Jazz Search with Chicago pianist, Ken Chaney. Frank has played many jazz festivals across the country including the Newport Jazz Festival, the Telluride Jazz Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival and many others.

Frank has also displayed his versatility by performing in theatre productions that include “The Beehive” at the Briar Street Theatre (Chicago) where he was given the only solo bass spot in the many companies performing the play, “Evelyn and the Polka King” at the prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre, and “Nomathemba” with Ladysmith Black Mambazo where he was the only American musician. The production performed at the Steppenwolf Theatre (Chicago), The Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), the Crossroads Theatre Company (New Jersey), and the Huntington Theatre Company (Boston). He also appears playing bass in the movie “Cold Justice” starring Roger Daltry.

Frank’s first release under his own name was named “Covering All Basses” where he played fretless, four and five string and acoustic guitars. Critic Chuck Deggan wrote “Russell does literally cover all bases through traditional, urban, South African and Latin jazz arrangements. The dexterity of Russell is phenomenal in the recording session as he illustrates awesome control of his basses, and reveals a fluid creativity not commonly found among most bass players.”

This second solo CD, “Circle Without End” is opening to equally positive reviews by fans and critics alike. According to jazz critic and author, Neil Tesser, “Vintage fusion lives – with a 90s sheen and a 21st century twist – courtesy of Chicago bass guitarist Frank Russell. He’s funneled an all-star cast of modern Chi-town stars into arrangements as crisp and bracing as a stiff wind off Lake Michigan.”