[Dixielandjazz] 9 year old Jonathan "Jazz" Russell

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 5 13:12:38 PDT 2004

Jonathan did it again!!!!!

He was absolutely superb at the 4th of July Freedom Celebration in
Wilmington Delaware as a member of The Barbone Street Jazz Band.

This 9 year old jazz violinist is something else. He speaks the language
of jazz and thousands of people were in the audience to hear him. He
upstaged our band of 70 year old professional musicians and we loved it.

Jonathan and Barbone Street had a one hour performance on the Riverfront
in Wilmington DE., preceding the fireworks display. The audience,
perhaps skeptical at first, quickly came to realize that he is an
extraordinary young jazz musician. He joined our band, unrehearsed and
delivered a stunning performance.

A couple of highlights were "I Want A Little Girl" and "After You've
Gone". He got the nod to play lead on both and he did so superbly,
having never before played either song with us. And he also sang "Little
Girl" to all the young folks in the audience (many kids). It was a show
stopper and he was seen afterward our set talking to some of the little
girls who were there. What fun.

On "After You've Gone", he impressed us all. You see, we had a piano
player subbing for our regular guitarist and we'd only worked with him
once this year. (An excellent jazz pianist who has backed Tony Bennett,
Nancy Wilson, Al Cohn, et. al.) I called the tune on the spot (we do not
work from an firm advance set list believing that more creativity
results this way). Now we and Jonathan ALWAYS do it in Bb, but the piano
player had usually done it in F. And so when asked for an 8 bar intro,
the piano did it in F. Bass player immediately adjusted to F but the
front line in a momentary lapse started in Bb.

Except for Jonathan who had the lead. He has perfect pitch and he heard
"F" so he joined the piano and bass in F, though he had NEVER BEFORE
played it in that key. His lead was PERFECT from note one, and the rest
of the front line had adjusted to F backing (polyphonic counterpoint) by
the end of the first measure. It was so smooth that very few in the
audience even realized what had just occurred. His mom also has perfect
pitch and she heard it immediately also. I glanced at her during that
first measure and she had that "oh no they're in F" look. But we smiled
together as we heard Jonathan proceed as if he did this every day. His F
solo improvisation was also superb. Again, bear in mind, he is 9.

This young man is so much fun to work with and his "ears" are right up
there with the best of them. Hey, band leaders out there, get some more
paying gigs for him. Festival producers, get him to your events. Kids
like him are the future of this music. Kids, like him, are also the
future audience for this music.

We have a couple a gigs still to come with Jonathan. One on July 18 at
the Turk's Head Music Festival in West Chester PA, and the other at a
two day Fall Festival in West Grove PA on September 11th and 12th.
He'll like both, which will include large crowds and lots of kids among
the grown ups. The fall festival is a horse and carriage competition and
will include various other attractions such as medieval reenactors,
Barbone Street Jazz, Swing Dancers, etc. If you are in the area, fall by
for a unique treat. (Maybe this time we'll call a number he has never
played at all and see where it goes. ;-) VBG)

Info on Jonathan? Google search for: Jonathan Jazz Russell.

Info on us? http://home.earthlink.net/~barbonestreet.

Steve Barbone

PS. We often get asked when playing with Jonathan, "Does the band mind
being upstaged?" Of course not. It's the story of our member's musical
lives, playing with such luminaries as Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge,
Billy Holiday, Kai Winding, J.J. Johnson, Clifford Brown, Tony Bennett,
Al Cohn, Sidney Bechet, Lester Young, Max Roach, Buddy Rich, Ben
Webster, Phil Napoleon, Pee Wee Irwin, Billy Maxted, Tony Spargo
(Sparbaro), Thelonious Monk, Yank Lawson, Bob Haggart, Gene Schroeder,
Mel Torme, Peggy Lee, Louis Prima, Yo Yo Ma, Isaac Stern, Vladimir
Horowitz, Artur Rubenstein, et al. We are proud to add Jonathan Russell
to that list and look forward to his joining them in their musical
achievements. I hope I'm still around 10 years from now to hear him do
just that.

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