Baltimore native and Jazz Saxophonist Russell Kirk compose a suite in four parts titled The Path Suite, referencing New Jersey’s train system, featured on his latest album, one he dedicated to the Journal Square community. The album, Kirk’s second is titled To Journal Square and the name of his band – The Path, the pedigree ensemble that joins Kirk on this musical journey adds lyrical balance to each track, and Kirk unselfishly allows them to shine. Among them are Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer/composer Terri Lyne Carrington, fusion guitarist Wayne Krantz, concert & film composer Jacob Yoffee on tenor Saxophone, the extraordinary Dontae Winslow on trumpet/vocals and Cuban export, award-winning keyboardist Aruán Ortiz.
Kirk, who studied at Townson Unviersity and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland left his home town immediately after graduating and began touring – he traveled with the USO and Indie pop rock singer/songwriter Jenny Boyle playing in a number of European countries, Africa and the Middle East and joined Gary Thomas, founder of jazz studies at Peabody, on tour in Japan, before returning to work on his Masters at NYU. While at NYU he met and played in essembles with John Scofield, Chris Potter, Kenny Werner and Lenny Pickett. He was an adjunct faculty member in the Steinhardt Music School at NYU and headed a music outreach program for inner city youth in Harlem and the east Village. It would begin his passion for bringing music to underserved communities which he continues to do through the OrchKids initiative in Baltimore.
Russell eventually moved from New York to Jersey City’s Journal Square Community and it was there during a difficult period in his career that he began to construct this current album. The vibrancy, diversity and hub nature of the community gave him inspiration. He locked in on the rhythm of the community, captured the musicality in the energy that it gave off. The album has a mashable construct, similar to the construct of the community he has dedicated it to.
Russell’s stylish compositions are complex but never over the top. Reminiscent of classic 80’s fusion, his layered Path Suite composition for example, perfectly captures the mood and texture that bespeaks big city life, and pays tribute to one of New Jersey’s busiest hubs.
Russell teams with several uniquely gifted artists including the incomparable singer/songwriter Sonya Kitchell who adds her honey soaked voice to Waiting Patiently and Local Baltimore hipster/poet, impresario Eze Jackson, who melds with distinction on the funk inspired Circling and on Who’s in Control.
Here is a link to access the album: https://soundcloud.com/russellkirk/sets/to-journal-square/s-0G155
To Journal Square is now available for sale at cdbaby, innercirclemusic.net, Amazon. Russell Kirk is available for interviews.
Learn more about Russell Kirk by visiting: http://www.russellkirklive.com/
Saxophonist/Composer Russell Kirk is a distinguished musician, an innovative force who offers a fresh approach that is both evocative and richly balanced. His expressive musical style punctuates his nuanced compositions, and nowhere is it more evident than in his latest release “To Journal Square”.
A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Russell received his undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University, Peabody Institute. Following graduation he travelled with the USO, performing across several continents including Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, with singer/songwriter Jenny Boyle, for troops stationed far from home.
He was awarded a scholarship from the Eubie Blake Foundation, allowing him to pursue his graduate studies at New York University. While earning his master’s degree, Russell was an adjunct faculty member at Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, where he headed a music outreach program for inner city youth in Harlem and the East Village, interned at Saturday Night Live and played with various ensembles and artists such as John Scofield, Chris Potter, and Lenny Pickett. Being in New York in the heart of jazz central provided him with rare opportunities to listen and to meet some of the really progressive musical geniuses who would later have a subtle influence on the direction of the music he was composing.
After graduation from NYU he toured Japan with his long-time mentor Gary Thomas. Russell has performed and recorded with a widely diverse and celebrated list of musicians and orchestras, among them – The Baltimore Symphony, George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic, The Soulful Symphony, The Cab Calloway Orchestra, The Eubie Blake Legacy Band, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Winslow Dynasty, and Rumba Club. In addition he has played with the best in the business – Sam Rivers, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dennis Chambers, Michael Formanek, Mike Clark, Sonya Kitchell, Wayne Krantz, Kenny Werner, Gary Thomas, Ed Howard, Kevin Mahogany, Cuba Gooding Sr., Jill Scott, and Vusi Mahlasela.
He and his band have opened for Herbie Hancock at The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. Other festival performances have included the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference, The Jazz Educators Network Conference, Milford Jazz Festival, The Federal Hill Jazz & Blues Festival and many others. Russell is a Buffet Crampon USA Performing Artist and holds annual master classes throughout the United States under their banner. He is a 4-time recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award and has been featured in numerous published articles including an extensive artist profile in Saxophone Journal Magazine. His compositions have led to a residency at the John F. Kennedy Center and a position at the Carnegie Hall Creative Composition Workshop.
Baltimore Magazine selected him 2012 “Best Arranger” and featured him in the “Best of Baltimore” for his arrangement of Gary Thomas’ “Who’s In Control?”, performed by The Peabody Jazz Orchestra.
Russell Kirk’s musical expressions stand out as distinctly modern in color and style, they retain the endearing, romantic sentiments of the American songbook. In his playing, as in his composition, he is sincere and provocative – a perfect confluence of old and new influences.
Russell Kirk is currently a recording artist on Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music.
Listen to his latest release – https://soundcloud.com/russellkirk/sets/to-journal-square/s-0G155
Visit – http://www.russellkirklive.com/