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Russell Malone Talks About Connecting With Audiences



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In this exclusive video podcast, Bob Bakert talks to Russell Malone about his incredible career and about playing with Diana Krall, Harry Connick, Jr., Ron Carter, and many others.

Introduction from guitarist Taylor Roberts: Russell Malone is the very definition of a “complete” musician. He’s a historian; not just evident in conversation, but in every note he plays. He has a deep and profound respect for his predecessors. In a group setting, echoes of giants like Wes Montgomery and George Benson are apparent, yet he’s instantly recognizable in his tone, touch, phrasing, and language. His solo guitar playing is in a league of its own as well! He’ll take any song, in any genre, and bring tears to your eyes. His influence from players like Ted Greene and Lenny Breau are evident; however, he injects an extra dose of soul into every song that’s all his own. There’s a reason why he’s been at the top of everyone’s list, from Jack McDuff to Diana Krall to Ron Carter, over the span of his career. He has a total command of the guitar and fits into every musical situation with ease — my favorite type of player.

Russell Malone Through The Years…

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“I’m standing here in the shade today because of people like George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Barney Kessel, etc., etc. – I stand in the shade because those men planted that tree a long time ago.” – Russell Malone

Russell Malone, John Collings, and Ted Greene

“I’ve been playing guitar for about 50 years now. Long time, right… In the beginning, you work on facility and you want nail everything. After a while, you start to edit. And that’s where I am right now, editing. You don’t have to play everything. Right. So if you’re gonna play something, make it count.” – Russell Malone

Kenny Burrell – Russell Malone

“So you just never know… you gotta be very careful how you treat people. Be careful how you treat people and keep your karma clean.” – Russell Malone

Bucky Pizzarelli and Russell

Russell Malone recalls one particular time backstage with Ron Carter: Ron started talking about being on a gig with Charlie Parker. Ron remembers Charlie was very open to other types of music. He would be at the jukebox putting coins in, and he’d be playing country songs, country songs! People would ask him, well, Byrd, you’re the great Charlie Parker. Why are you playing this country music – Byrd’s reply was – to listen to the stories. Listen to the stories. 

Russell Solo Recordings

Russell Malone on playing duets: You know, when I was playing with her (Diana Krall), we had a good time playing together. But I tell you, my favorite part of the night would be when she and I would just do duets together, and we’d just, you know, make magic. It was wonderful. I love doing that. That’s one of my favorite things to do – just me and a vocalist. I love doing that. 

Russell Malone On Guitar (just a few…)

Special Thanks to Don Lucoff and DL Media Music for helping with the interview!

Listen to the audio podcast

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