From a very early age, Russ could get a tune out of just about anything he got his hands on. After some formal training in piano through the Royal Conservatory of Music, his interests shifted to the saxophone, being influenced by recording greats such as Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Paul Desmond, Lee Allen, Stanley Turrentine, King Curtis and Cannonball Adderley.
In the early 1960’s Russ played popular music of the day on Toronto’s “Yonge Street Strip”. He headed a group called “The Ramblers” at Toronto’s Zanzibar Tavern and was noticed by Ronnie Hawkins, who offered him a full time position in his band, “The Hawks”. But during that time Russ was studying Electronics at Ryerson and he made a Key Decision to turn down that offer because he wanted to stay in college and not become a full-time musician.
At the end of a 6-month Zanzibar contract he went on to play R&B with the houseband at the original Club Bluenote on Yonge Street as a member of the “Silhouettes” with bandmates Steve Kennedy and Doug Riley, backing great artists of that time like Dianne Brooks, Shirley Mathews and Eric Murcury.
Russ played with some of the finest Toronto groups of that era such as “The Regents” with Dunc & Judi and with “The Majestics” featuring Shawn and Jay Jackson. He worked with the Majestics on a CBC Toronto TV series, “Where It’s At“.
Russ has also played with many other notable artists:
“Robbie Laine and the Disciples“, “Ritchie Knight and the MidKnights“, Jackie Wilson, Frank Motley, Jack DeKeyzer,
George Oliver and Gangbuster, John Findlay, Chuck Jackson, and Peter Boynton (formerly with Red Rider).
Relocating in the early 1980s from Toronto to Barrie, Ontario, Russ continued to perform with the Martels Rock and Roll Show, the Figleaf Jazz Band. Wayne Buttery‘s band, The Groove Project, “Little Caesar and The Consuls“, James Anthony plus many others.
Some of his ability to compose music is reflected in his 2003 recording of the album “Reflections“. As a recording session artist since the late 1950s, Russ has over 60 credits in the industry. One special project in 2010 was working extensively with the late, great pianist, Mark Rutherford, and producing their album, Steppin’ Back.
Gifted with a quick ear, Russ feels quite comfortable improvising on the tenor, alto, soprano and bari sax in many genres, including Blues, Jazz, R&B, Rock and Country. Having studied music at Humber College, he has taught privately the saxophone to a select number of serious students.