Saxophonist/Composer Russell Kirk in his relatively short, but rather illustrious career has developed a unique and innovative sound. A combination of highly developed facility on the saxophone with mature expression as a performer make Russell a rising force on the scene.
Kirk, a Buffet Crampon USA Performing Artist and Inner Circle Music recording Artist, is regularly heard throughout the New York metropolitan area. As a solo artist, Russell has performed and recorded with a diverse array of celebrated groups, ranging from The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic. In early 2009 Kirk was signed to Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music record label and will release his second album as a leader in March 2012.
Composition plays a very large part in Russell's total musical picture. He is a 3-time recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. Grant funding has helped Russell pave the way for several projects including a self-produced album entitled Black & White, released in 2007 (currently available on itunes). Kirk’s compositions have also awarded him a residency at the John F. Kennedy Center with the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program and an alternate position at the Carnegie Hall Dave Douglas Creative Composition Workshop.
In 2005, after Graduating from the Peabody Conservatory at the Johns Hopkins University, Russell began touring various countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East performing for US troops with singer/songwriter Jenny Boyle. After his travels, Russell attended New York University on a scholarship from the Eubie Blake Foundation. At NYU, Russell was an adjunct faculty member in the Steinhardt School, headed a music outreach program for inner city youths in Harlem & the East Village, interned at Saturday Night Live and played in various ensembles with John Scofield, Chris Potter, and Lenny Pickett.
In January 2010 Kirk toured Japan with Gary Thomas and was featured on the cover of “The Saxophone Journal” September 2010 issue. These days Russell performs in various ensembles in New York and abroad while holding down several teaching positions, including the Director of Instrumental Music title at the prestigious all Jewish Academy Beth Tfiloh (even though he is not Jewish himself). Kirk continues to compose with new works including scores for films such as “Still A Teen Movie” “Spare Change” and “Ghost And Us,” Doggie Boogie, and also for the off Broadway comedy production “Sandy the Dandy and Charlie McGee.”
Other groups Russell has performed with include: The Soulful Symphony, The Cab Calloway Orchestra, The Eubie Blake Legacy Band, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Rumba Club. Prominent artists he has worked with include: Sam Rivers, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dennis Chambers, Mike Formanek, Mike Clark, Wayne Krantz, Kenny Werner, Gary Thomas, Kevin Mahogany, Cuba Gooding Sr., Jill Scott and Vusi Mahlasela. As a leader, Russell Kirk and his band have opened for Herbie Hancock at The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. Other festivals have included the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference (IAJE), The Jazz Educators Network Conference (JEN), Milford Jazz Festival, The Federal Hill Jazz & Blues Festival, and many others.