Curley Russell

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Curley Russell
Birth nameDillon Russell
Born(1917-03-19)19 March 1917
OriginUnited States
Died3 July 1986(1986-07-03) (aged 69)
InstrumentsDouble bass
Years active1940s–1950s

Dillon "Curley" Russell[1] (19 March 1917 – 3 July 1986) was an American jazz musician who played bass on many bebop recordings.

A member of the Tadd Dameron Sextet, in his heyday he was in demand for his ability to play at the rapid tempos typical of bebop, and appears on several key recordings of the period. He left the music business in the late 1950s.

On May 1, 1951 Russell played in the recording session for Un Poco Loco, composed by American jazz pianist Bud Powell, with Max Roach on drums. Literary critic Harold Bloom included this performance on his short list of the greatest works of twentieth-century American art.

According to jazz historian Phil Schaap, the classic bebop tune "Donna Lee", a contrafact on "Back Home Again in Indiana", was named after Curley's daughter.[2][3] In 2002, she donated her father's bass to the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.[4]

He died of emphysema at Queens General Hospital at the age of 69 in 1986.[5]


As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ Woideck, Carl Charlie Parker: his music and life University of Michigan Press, 1998 ISBN 0-472-08555-7 ISBN 978-0-472-08555-2 at Google Books
  2. ^ Schaap learned this from saxophonist and music historian Allen Lowe, who was a friend of Russell's.
  3. ^ "Donna Lee" @ Accessed 2009-07-26
  4. ^ The Curly Russell Bass: Restoration of a Musical Instrument Accessed 2014-12-24
  5. ^