Jonathan Russell
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Jonathan Russell

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Jazz


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The best kept secret in music


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Sheik of Araby
Puttin' On the Ritz



Romantics would say it was love at first sight. Or in this case, maybe first listen. By the age of 18 months, every time Jonathan Russell saw a picture of a violin he repeated the word. And when he finally held one on his shoulder for the first time, it was definitely a done deal. Jonathan started classical Suzuki violin lessons at the age of 3, but when at 5, he heard a band play a Dixieland version of "Bei Mir Bist Du Shein", he decided to go home and learn it. Once he learned the tune, improvisations seemed to just flow out of him naturally.

Jonathan has become an integral link to the future of jazz, connecting younger generations of listeners with great musicians and band leaders such as Wynton Marsalis, Les Paul, Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Polcer. His youth presentations have helped connect students with jazz by identifying aspects of jazz in every day modern life. His performances seamlessly integrate modern and popular melodies into the fabric of jazz standards while respecting and acknowledging the golden age of jazz in America and the performers who have come before.

In 2005, at the age of nine, Jonathan was awarded an Alternative Styles Award by the American String Teachers Association. In 2006, Jonathan had the honor of being the youngest jazz musician ever invited to play in a master class at Jazz at Lincoln Center taught by today's foremost name in jazz violin, Regina Carter. In addition to numerous other awards and distinctions, Jonathan is most proud to have received the U.S. Ambassador's Award in Hungary for his performances promoting mutual understanding and strengthening the friendship between the two countries. In November of 2008 Jonathan appeared as one of the youngest ever feature performers with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at Rose Hall in New York. Those performances at Rose Hall were also featured in a live broadcast on XM Satellite Radio and re-broadcast on NPR stations around the world. In 2009, Jonathan was awarded one of the Daniel Pearl Memorial violins by Mark O'Connor and the faculty of the first annual O'Connor fiddle camp in New York City.

Jonathan has performed at major jazz festivals including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, the Suncoast Dixieland Jazz Festival, the New Jersey and North Carolina jazz festivals. In 2008 he made his European debut at the Bohém Ragtime & Jazz Festival with performances in eight cities throughout Hungary. He has been featured at The Blue Note in New York City and has performed at other venues such as Iridium and Birdland. In the past he has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Bucky Pizzarelli, Les Paul, John Lamb, John Bunch, Svend Asmussen and more than 40 jazz bands from the United States and Europe.

In addition to attending Professional Children's School in Manhattan, he is studying violin at the School for Strings with Allen Lieb while his jazz studies have been with Grammy Award winner Andy Stein of Prairie Home Companion's Shoe Band and jazz arranger Ron Drotos. Jonathan also pursues supplemental studies during the summer at Grammy Award winner Mark O'Connor's Fiddle Camp and year round master classes with the legendary jazz be-bop great Barry Harris.

His first CD entitled The Sheik of Araby features eleven standards from the jazz age. Jonathan's newest CD, Puttin' On The Ritz, features many of the performers he has been working with including Bucky Pizzarelli, Joel Forbes, Joe Ascione, Nicki Parrott, Mark Shane and Ed Polcer. Both CD's are available at any performance or via the web at and iTunes.