Saxophonist/Composer Russell Kirk is a distinguished musician, an innovative force in the industry who offers a fresh approach that is both evocative and richly balanced. His expressive musical style punctuates his nuanced compositions, and nowhere is it more evident than with his new venture “The Path”
With the latest album, titled “To Journal Square”, Russell Kirk & The Path offer a distinctly modern style while retaining the romantic sentiments of the American songbook. His presentations range in size (and budget) however his performance, as in his composition, is consistently sincere and provocative – a perfect confluence of old and new.
A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Russell received his undergraduate degree from The Johns Hopkins University, Peabody Institute. Following graduation he traveled with the USO, performing across several continents including Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, entertaining troops stationed far from home.
While still on tour with the USO he received a scholarship from the Eubie Blake Foundation allowing him put a halt on touring and pursue his graduate studies at New York University. While earning his master’s degree, Russell was an adjunct faculty member at The Steinhardt School of Culture, where he headed a music outreach program for inner city youths in Harlem and the East Village, interned at Saturday Night Live and played with various ensembles and artists such as John Scofield, Chris Potter, and Lenny Pickett. Being in New York City, in the heart of jazz central, provided him the opportunity to associate with some of the most progressive musical geniuses alive. This exposure played influence in the direction of his music.
After graduation from NYU he toured Japan with his long-time mentor Gary Thomas. Russell has performed and recorded with a widely diverse and celebrated list of musicians and orchestras, among them - The Baltimore Symphony, George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic, The Soulful Symphony, The Cab Calloway Orchestra, The Eubie Blake Legacy Band, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Winslow Dynasty, and Rumba Club. In addition he has played with the best in the business - Sam Rivers, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dennis Chambers, Michael Formanek, Mike Clark, Sonya Kitchell, Wayne Krantz, Kenny Werner, Gary Thomas, Ed Howard, Kevin Mahogany, Cuba Gooding Sr., Jill Scott, and Vusi Mahlasela.
He and his band have opened for Herbie Hancock at The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. Other festival performances have included the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference, The Jazz Educators Network Conference, The Milford Jazz Festival, The Federal Hill Jazz & Blues Festival, Brooklyn’s Shapeshifter Lab Festival, New Jersey’s Groove on Grove Festival, Baltimore’s Artscape, and many others.
Russell is a Buffet Crampon USA Performing Artist and holds annual master classes throughout the United States under their banner. He is a 4-time recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council's Individual Artist Award and has been featured in numerous published articles including an extensive artist profile in Saxophone Journal Magazine. His compositions have led to a residency at the John F. Kennedy Center and a position at the Carnegie Hall Creative Composition Workshop.
Baltimore Magazine selected him 2012 “Best Arranger” and featured him in the “Best of Baltimore” issue for his arrangement of Gary Thomas' “Who's In Control?”, performed by The Peabody Jazz Orchestra.
Russell Kirk is currently a recording artist on Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music Label. Fees are negotiable.
Below is a quote from one of Baltimore’s popular online journals “The Baltimore Brew”
---The girl with the candy corn-colored hair beads speaks in a halting whisper around adults and is hardly the best musician in the ensemble, but she is the first to grab Russell Kirk’s attention when he walks in the room. And so Morgan Brown gets what many of the children urgently want at this weekly session of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program, held at Lockerman-Bundy Elementary School in one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods – one-on-one time with “Mr. Russell.”---- I’ve been a teacher with the Orchkids program for 3 years. I’m also a teaching artist with the Hippodrome
Foundation, and before that I worked with an outreach program in New York City. It is has been a sole mission of my artistic path to inspire individuals. To help them understand and appreciate true passion. I want to stimulate, nurture and assist the willing in understanding the grit it takes to persevere.
“Russell Kirk & The Path” offers a variety of complementary programs.
• Student features: Russell Kirk & The Path featuring students from BSO Orchkids program
• Educational Outreach: clinics that provide group, and one on one instruction to students of all ages in pursuit of a positive impact on the community.
• Master Class Offering: the goal of the proposed master class is to inspire a new generation of jazz performers and listeners to build a broader base of tools and interest needed to cultivate jazz in the present day. The class will support this goal by using performance and coaching to expose students and the general audience to modern jazz, and promote appreciation and support for new music.