Russell, George Allen
- David H. Anthony
percussionist, pianist, and composer, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and nurtured in the care of foster parents. He first became interested in jazz on hearing Fate Marable on a riverboat. He was also impressed by Jimmy Mundy, an arranger for the Benny Goodman Orchestra. At age fifteen Russell was earning a living playing drums. By seventeen he was a member of the Wilberforce University band, where he shared the stage with Ernie Wilkins, the saxophonist who was later Count Basie's arranger.
Three years later, after recovering from tuberculosis, Russell took a step toward maturity as a musician when he became part of Benny Carter's orchestra, where he contributed “Big World,” his first composition. After serving a period of apprenticeship in Chicago in the employ of the pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines along with some cabarets Russell decided he needed to be in New ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.