Curley Russell was born Dillon Russell on March 19, 1917 in Trinidad. Learning to play bass in his youth, the double-bassist by 1941 had joined the Don Redman big band and two years later was playing with Benny Carter. During the early bop period of jazz he became extremely busy performing and recording with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.
From 1947 – 1949 he was a member of the Tadd Dameron Sextet and became more in demand for his ability to play at rapid tempos typical of the period. During his short career as a sideman he performed and/or recorded with an impressive list of musicians: Buddy De Franco, Bud Powell, Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk, the Art Blakey Quintet, Clifford Brown, Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, J. J. Johnson, Johnny Griffin, Stan Getz, George Wallington, Milt Jackson, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims.
Seemingly uninterested in the melodic mobility that was expected of bassists, he was never featured as a soloist and by the late Fifties dropped out of the jazz scene and left the music business altogether. Curley Russell passed away on July 3, 1986.
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