Jazz Notes Intel: By Dan Ouellette
|By Dan Ouellette, Senior Editor ZEALnyc, June 8, 2018|
Maestro guitarist Russell Malone thanks six-string elder Kenny Burrell for giving him invaluable advice thirty years ago to advance his career. “Kenny told me to always be consistent,” the 54-year-old Malone said in a phone conversation from his New Jersey home shortly after returning from headlining a doubleheader of jazz festivals in Jacksonville, FL and Atlanta. “You’ve got to always play well and remember that people fly or drive to pay money to see you. For me the most important thing is to consistently reach the listener. A lot of musicians start out working to gain the respect of their peers, but after a while they try to live up to someone else’s idea of what jazz music is. That’s a recipe for disaster.”
Throughout his career, Malone’s true-to-myself wisdom has been lauded and appropriately is celebrated this year by Jack Kleinsinger, a former New York assistant attorney general who became a vital jazz impresario presenting his unique four-show Highlights in Jazz concert series. In its 46th season, it’s the longest-running jazz concert series in the city. Launched in 1973, he has produced more than 300 concerts with such classic jazz stars as Zoot Sims, Roy Haynes, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Dave Brubeck, Billy Taylor, Woody Herman and Billy Higgins, among many others.
Each year for the season’s finale, Kleinsinger pays tribute to an alive-and-well artist. This year on at the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center, the honor goes to Malone. “Russell is the youngest artist ever saluted,” he said, running down a long list of former honorees, including his very first, Lionel Hampton, and Malone’s mentor Burrell. “When I was beginning to do concerts, I was thinking of how tired I was going to memorials for jazz stars who had passed away. That’s when I started doing the salutes, bringing together different styles across the generations.”
Russell Malone; photo: Chris Drukker.
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