Bass guitarist Frank Russell, a native of Chicago, started his music career early playing drums, guitar and sax before switching to bass guitar at the age of 14, and has been playing it ever since. Along the way he worked and recorded with such diverse artists as The Spaniels, Dee Clark, Dee Dee Warwick, Freddie Hubbard, Ramsey Lewis, Bobby Irving (Miles Davis), Art Porter, Alphonse Mouzon, Red Holt, Mike Wolff (Arsenio Hall), Peter Erskine (Weather Report), Ken Chaney, Sugar Blue Terry Lynn Carrington and many others.
Frank has recorded five CDs with Chicago guitarist Henry Johnson, whose CDs garnered five star ratings in Down Beat Magazine and who received number one status in radio airplay across the country. Russell co-wrote the title song for Johnson’s second CD Future Excursions, and also recorded a song with Johnson on a CD featuring the music of Earth, Wind & Fire entitled Smooth Elements, which includes such artists as Stanley Turrentine, Larry Coryell, Phil Perry, and Earth Wind & Fire. He is also listed in the bass instructional book Funk Bass by Jon Liebman with some of the top bassist in his field.
Russell’s real love is live 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.” Lazaro Vega writes, “Frank never crosses into tasteless grand standing during his charged solos, but shows 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 including 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 the internationally known South African singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, where he was the only American musician. The production was 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 latest endeavor is the release of his first CD under his own name, the aptly titled Covering All Basses, where he plays fretless, four and five string, and acoustic bass guitars. Critic Chuck Deggans writes, “Russell does literally cover all basses through traditional, urban, South African, and Latin jazz arrangements. The dexterity of Russell is phenomenal in this recording session as he illustrates awesome control of his basses, and reveals a fluid creativity not commonly found among most bass players.”