Guitar master Russell Malone leads a talented quartet with versatile pianist Ross Margitza, talented bassist Mike Gurrola, and drum master, Roy McCurdy. Russell Malone plays with a fluid touch on beautiful lines with harmonic cadence that has a warm, well balanced, relaxed feeling. Malone’s full, rich sound comes from his fleet fingers and ideas that spring from his head to his hands with speed and dexterity. Russell has learned a lot from watching, listening and being around master musicians. He has recorded 14 albums as a leader, 20 albums as a sideman, and is a signature player of his generation. Malone has toured internationally with a world class quartet and trio, and is a long standing member of bassist Ron Carter’s Golden Striker Trio. Russell has been part of Sonny Rollins’ and Dianne Reeves’ musical productions, contributing his signature tone, refined listening skills, his limitless chops, and his efflorescent imagination. Malone’s influences include guitarists Charlie Christian, Chet Atkins, George Van Epps, Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Pat Martino, George Benson, B.B. King, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, and the Fantastic Violinaires. A master of all tempos, and a relentless swinger, Russell spins stories from urban and down-home blues, country, gospel, the Great American Songbook, and hardcore jazz with a soulful, instantly recognizable instrumental voice and sophisticated harmony that is really hip. Malone has played with many distinguished musicians that include B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Andy Williams, James Blood Ulmer, and Ornette Coleman. Russell received his first guitar at the age of 4, played in the Church at the age of 6, and discovered jazz at the age of 12, after hearing George Benson perform a PBS special with Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Red Norvo, Milt Hinton, and Jo Jones. 4 jazz albums that most influenced Malone are George Benson’s Cookbook and Benson Burner albums, and Wes Montgomery’s Smoking at the Halfnote and Boss Guitar albums, from which Russell has never strayed from. Raised in Albany, Georgia, Malone first played in Al Rylander’ band in Houston, and later went to Atlanta and played with Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, Little Anthony, Peabo Bryson, O.C. Smith, and Freddie Cole. Fellow musicians Branford Marsalis and John Hicks encouraged Russell to go to New York where he played with numerous musicians, including at Barry Harris’ Jazz Cultural Theatre. Malone later played with organist Jimmy Smith, Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall, Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Kenny Barron, Brother Jack McDuff, Bobby Hutcherson, Christian McBride, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Hank Jones, Jeff Watts, Benny Green, Ray Brown, Monty Alexander, Bill Frisell, Sonny Rollins, Marcus Miller, Romero Lubambo, David Wong, Montez Coleman, Martin Belerano, Tassili Bond, Jonathan Blake, Rick Germanson, Luke Sellick, Willie Jones 111, Ben Wolfe, and Gary Bartz.
Pianist, Trumpeter, Composer, Arranger, and Educator Ross Margitza, from Detroit, Michigan, studied the piano with his Dad and Grandpa at the age of 6, and studied the trumpet at the age of 10. Listening to Oscar Peterson’s performance of West Side Story influenced Ross to become a jazz musician. Margitza received degrees from Michigan State University, Northern Illinois University, and The University of Texas, Austin. Ross has played with Jon Faddis, Phil Woods, Gerald Wilson, Patti Austin, Wess Anderson, Antonio Hart, Lynn Roberts, Christian McBride, and The Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey Orchestras, and plays with The Kevin Kanner Band, and Mark Stevens Trio around the L.A. area.
Bassist Mike Gurrola was mentored by Grammy award winning Bassist John Clayton, a Ray Brown protege, and has played with top jazz musicians that include Eric Reed, Jeff Hamilton, Benny Green, Ralph Moore, Willie Jones 111, Roy McCurdy, and many others. Mike plays with impressive maturity, musicianship, and experience well beyond his years. Gurrola’s supportive bass playing propels his fellow band members outward and upward with strength, humility, humor, and a well rounded knowledge of the instrument. Mike plays serious, swinging grooves with creative ease, and as a first call bassist, inspires with his presence, bringing a comfort to his band mates and a good musical experience for all.
Drum master Roy McCurdy, nicknamed The Dominator, was a member of Cannonball Adderley’s Quintet for 11 years, and has played, toured, or recorded with The Mangione Brothers, Bobby Timmons, Betty Carter, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Count Basie, Wes Montgomery, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, Gene Ammons, Herbie Mann, Shorty Rogers, Bud Shank, Joe Zawinul, Betty Bennett, Joe Williams, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, Horace Silver, Art Pepper, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Milt Jackson, J.J. Jackson, Ray Brown, and numerous others. Roy studied at The Eastman School of Music at the age of 16 for 3 years, and currently teaches at USC’s Thornton School of Music, and at The Pasadena Conservatory School of Music. McCurdy’s influences include Louie Bellson, Shelly Manne, Sam Woodyard, Buddy Rich, Papa Jo Jones, Philly Joe Jones, and the Bands of Duke Ellington, Jimmy Lunceford, and Lionel Hampton. Roy recorded 25 albums with The Adderley Brothers, 15 albums as a sideman, and has over 250 credits over a 60 year career.